So I’m listening to my IPOD when it suddenly hits me. Wow there is no physical barrier anymore between my Tool, Stone Temple Pilots, Chevelle, System of the Down, Melvins, Metallica, and Miles Davis. Now they’re all songs on a global album. I can enjoy them all with just the touch of a button. When we purchase a CD what do we do - we immediately transfer all the files over to our iPod’s & the CD goes on a shelf where it begins collecting dust. The days of vinyl are long gone, and very much like floppy disks, CD’s now feel like an obsolete piece of hardware that’s not worth our time or money. It contains 10 or so songs, and just feels increasingly dated and obsolete. In a way it insults our intelligence knowing how we paid for Chinese Mafia?
Like everyone I can feel myself methodically entering the post-CD era where my iPod can hold thousands of songs. The days of the mighty CD are numbered, along with it the way traditional Record Labels operate. If we could morph ahead a few years from now what would we see? We would see consumers flocking to record stores very much like an internet café, downloading their music and paying at the door. Or take it one step further and get rid of the music café all together and just do it from your home computer.. Sound familiar? Folks we’re already there. All of the above is not tragic, it’s just the natural evolution of technology, and the way people obtain their music via a path of least resistance. It took until the late 1970's for the sales of records to exceed one billion dollars; today it’s domestically about fourteen billion. Yes I said domestically. With the rapid evolution of technology thee days the Music Industry must keep up and evolve along with it - i/e labels, distributors, and stores. We’ve seen technology phase out dinosaurs like newspapers simply because they couldn't keep up, or fail to reinvent their business model. The same can be said about the Music Business and what lies ahead – both for the artist and the record label.
So to the artists out there I say - there is still money to be made selling your music and a lot of concert tickets. But many artists in 2009 are asking themselves - “what do I need a label for again?” Ultimately it’s the buzz around you and your music that will fill stadiums and sell your best songs. There is still money to be made around good music, hot bands, sex appeal, youthfulness and yes that killer song everyone is talking about. All these factors may never change, but the way we sell it to the consumer will continue to change. Those who don’t evolve along with it will be left in the dust.
The successful artists will be the one who can master both the art and the commerce together – independently. To all the belly-achers out there I leave you with one final thought. The Point of Sale (POS) is never wrong, and neither is its delivery method. All the rest is Vinyl Disco.