Pennies from Kevin: The Industry 2007 Summary Pt 1


Watching the music industry this year has been interesting. If this were a race for the finish line, performers would take the lead. There have been some incredible marketing and promotional ideas coming DIRECTLY from the performers and outside media entities. The look of someone else doing the industry’s job is getting embarrassing. Artists have become so incredibly business savvy, they are now asking for performance royalties? I don’t agree with that wholeheartedly, if it wasn’t for radio (or at least what WAS radio) these artists would have never been stars. That point is being argued right now and it does make sense. However, at the current rate that radio is going, artists don’t NEED it as much. Radio, today, stands to gain the greater benefit of playing popular artists and there is a thin line between promotion and using someones image and likeness to promote the radio station. Ouch!. It does indeed make sense and that will also be a point of reference for the artists.

Successful CD sales were well publicised while the flops continued to suck the monetary gain out of the the few hits that the industry saw. Labels continue to suffer, budgets continue to be cut and layoffs are not only eminent, they are taking place as you read this… One would question, why would the industry layoff people before the holiday, how cruel… I think if you gave me a choice, I’d rather get it before the holiday than after the new year. At least if you get fired BEFORE the new year you have a better chance of starting off on the right track with a fresh perspective. Getting fired after everybody comes back to work would seem even more depressing, it would mean you are off to a bad start in the new year. What a lot of people outside the industry fail to realize is layoffs take place before the end of the year because the industry shuts down at the end of the year for two to three weeks. On Jan 3, the new year begins and the label wants to be fresh and ready… I can understand that.

Artist have given repeated hints as to what it will take to save the industry or at least restructure it but the labels and radio continue to act as if they are being held hostage by wishful thinking and/or the music buying public. Ironically, in a way, this is true. The MP3 craze of the early 2000’s took the industry by storm. Even though the industry created MP3s a few years before as a POSSIBLE new way to sell records. The public wanted more than paying $20.00 for an entire CD when they only liked one single. The MP3 craze was a way to solve that.

As a way to resolve the conflict: illegal free music downloading and a suffering music industry, Apple’s iTunes stepped in to save the day. They believed that everyone wasn’t a crook and there were many people who were willing to pay 99 cents for single music if they could have it the way they wanted it. That was, picking the songs and paying a price per song or having the OPTION to buy the entire CD. That seemed like a great idea but not without a great price to the consumer AND the labels in the end. The labels were asked to sign exclusive deals and they were so nervous they did, giving iTunes exclusive rights to sell certain product. Then the consumers were forced to use overpriced status quo gadgets like the iPod where you could upload music, even your own collection but you could not download the music BACK to your computer. Service plans were forced down the buyers throat on top of the erroneous price and iPod also made deals with major networks and the same applied there. iPod won all the way around. They had exclusives from the majors, they overpriced their gadgets and they made them, (like the apple computer) obsolete each year with a better more newly designed machine with more features. For the iPod, everybody knows the product by those familiar white ear plugs. Even if it’s not an iPod you still THINK it’s one because of the marketing. I have to give them credit for that. The earpiece in my iPod is busted and I only get sound from one side. I took it to a store to have it fixed, they want $75.00. Off to another MP3 player for me. I am no longer an iPod fan and I think it’s a rip off….. Apparently, I am not alone. Several record labels have refused to sign exclusive agreements with iTunes this year and that has to have Apple concerned about the worm eating away at the core.

Radio continues on its downward spiral with continued self esteem issues and doubt as to how it will survive day to day in 08. Satellite stations are gaining considerable momentum as is downloadable music and the “New DJs” … podcasters. Listeners want commercial free content and radio cannot survive without commercials. Radio still has an advantage as the auto industry is also still somewhat antiquated and not ready to make the investment for loading docks and accessories in all new cars for MP3 and sat radio players as they, like radio, are waiting to see what happens (instead of helping to pioneer) the new industry…..

part two tomorrow