What could be in store for the Music Industry?
Opinion for ProRec.com. Read the full article.
Like a fast growing teenager from a broken home, the music industry has been tortured by painful and unexpected changes, finally learning how to survive on its own. Today, major labels are the melancholic parents in denial, missing the old days of sense of ownership. They are still in control, suffocating the market transformations as much as they can. But they are losing the game, and they know it: capitalism in the hands of the little ones is a doomsday device against the corporations –
“Indie” is a commonly used abbreviation for Independent music, and that means independent from the pseudo-corporatism of major labels in the areas of recording, production and publishing. Indie bands like Sonic Youth and The Pixies rose to alternative audiences when the music industry started turning into a commercial monopoly, and the somewhat recent MP3 file sharing tendency re-ignited the war between the ones with power and the ones with talent. Since then, things have changed.
The word “Indie” is now often used to represent a music genre. These artists are still independent in the true meaning of the word, but for different reasons than you might expect: the do-it-yourself approach is now maintained, not by sheer rebellion against the establishment, but because the artists themselves are now in control.
Independent labels helped this transformation, but today’s market evolution is also leaving them behind. All because of a fusion of musicians and business – more and more, artists are producing in their own home studios, or creating indie labels of their own, to represent themselves (and occasionally a few other bands) in production and promotion.
Another possibility is to also see an exodus of studio professionals towards jazz and classical (mainly film scores). Since those genres will always need extreme care, for precision in production or bigger budget purposes, the industry might not look as dark for professionals after all.
Despite the parallel made between design, music and film businesses, what usually happens is that teams are needed to achieve the results. And since it’s never really a one-man-job, high quality production environments stay alive, because they usually end up being more profitable and pleasurable for everyone involved.
Despite the complaints of major labels about the state of the post-MP3 market, the film industry is also victimized by tons of DivX downloads. Some movie industry analysts predicted, a couple of years ago, that big budget summer blockbusters would disappear, and guess what? They’re still becoming increasingly profitable, and since 2006 we’ve had the biggest record-breaking box office sales ever registered. So I would bet we’re still going to see a lot more Batman sequels and remakes before things start going down.
Obviously, no one knows the future – specially the future of music in these days of violent transformations. I’ll gladly write a follow-up to this analysis after more time of reflection and information gathering about how exactly things will end after the MP3 vs. Labels war is finished.