Where did the music industry go so wrong?

Apple Store“Wasn’t it all so gloriously simple back when people listened to top 40 radio and obediently paid $20 for discs at record store chains? Labels set the deal terms for artists; managers handled the “biz”; the touring circuits were maintained by well-mannered warlords that politely divvied up the venues; and everyone had their place in the pond,” Patrick Faucher writes for CNET News.

“So where did it all go wrong with the music business? Somehow, the pond became stagnant over time, mucked up with greed, laziness, contempt and excess. People got bored with music. Then, someone threw a rock into the middle of it called “The Internet” and nothing will ever be the same. Today, anyone can hum a tune, mix it with a rhythm track and some samples on their Mac at home, put it up on MySpace, and end up with a publishing deal from Moby who will then sell it to the next Superbowl sponsor,” Faucher writes.

Faucher writes, “The labels–or their successors–need to get down to sea level, pick up an oar, and help row with the artist into this new ocean of opportunity.”

Interesting full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Bev M.” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Piper Jaffray: ‘less than a 25% chance’ music labels will heed Apple CEO Jobs’ call to drop DRM – February 07, 2007
Apple inks deal with big four labels: iTunes Music Store prices stay at 99-cents per song – May 01, 2006
Record labels look to raise iTunes wholesale prices, music industry fears Apple’s market domination – March 04, 2005


  1. The problem now is that the ‘Labels’ are no longer necessary, but they still have a lot of power, since they own much of the music. At some point, distributors like Apple will recognize that they can deal with the artists directly. When the do, both Apple and the artists will make more money. The problem will be getting the old music out of the hands of the Labels.

    MDN Magice Word – dead, as in: The Labels are dead, it just isn’t obvious yet.

  2. Perhaps everyone would be better off if the big-time recorded music biz just went away. (including iTunes) Once upon a time (100 years ago) a musician’s means of support was live performance and that’s how consumers got their fix. That and playing instruments at home. Music was a personal interactive medium and there’s something to be said for that.

    Obviously this isn’t going to happen and I’m not throwing away my thousands of CDs and 3 iPods but if I didn’t have a choice I know I’d go to more local shows which would allow more local musicians to pursue their art.

  3. Free distribution of music would help encourage live performance, tbt. There is too much money in the sale of plastic boxes and not enough in creating a good show. Some artists can still pull this off, but that’s not where the industry throws its money. Not when it’s so easy to make J-Lo a star and collect gazillions from album sales. Real artists aren’t supported or encouraged to perform any more, and it’s a damn shame.
    Of course, local governments do their best to shut down smaller venues whenever they get the chance, too. In Bremerton Washington there had been a healthy local music scene growing for years, but all the best venues that the kids loved have been shut down and they don’t have anywhere to go any more. This is under the guise of ‘keeping kids safe’ and ‘public good’, but the result is that they don’t have anything to do, so many of them just sit around at home and get high. Yeah, they’re so safe now.
    What needs to happen is that we need to embrace music as a society again. No one sings any more, hardly anyone owns a piano or a guitar. We as Americans have given it up, for the most part, and it’s sad. It’s not required in school (and it was up until the 80”s when I was in school) and of course it doesn’t fit the standardize testing model that we’ve been saddled with. And the result? Every child gets left behind. This beautiful medium for culture and communication and political commentary is dying right in front of us, and nobody gives a damn.
    The music industry is just a symptom, and thanks to iTunes and digital distribution, it will collapse very, very soon. The real problem, the disease, happens every time you let your kid listen to Britney Spears and don’t tell them anything about The Beatles.


    MW: ‘plans’ (within plans)

  4. Chrissy

    Knowing you and knowing me
    you won’t
    Take a chance on me
    So I guess this is my

    Another thought-
    There is a difference between musicians and entertainers.
    I prefer musicians. Dwight, Bela, Miles, Merle, Jaco, Elvis C. and Diana K., SRV., Alice N, STP, Allmans, Stevie W, Al G, Joni and Janis
    But that new video with Shakira and Beyonce is f’ing HOT!!!

  5. I have seen Elivs Costello perform live many times, that last was a solo show at The Ste. Michelle winery. He is a consummate artist, but he is also a natural born entertainer. SRV is my personal guitar hero (as well as his mentor, Albert King) and there are few musicians who could entertain like he could. STP… well, Scott should be in the encyclopedia under “Rock Star”. He’s amazing (at least when he’s not beating his wife).

  6. @ChrissyOne – you are so right. You don’t have to go back more than a couple of decades (a lifetime in the computer and iIndustries but a moment in music history) to a time where most dance clubs had regular bands. The only places that had a DJ were those that couldn’t afford to pay musicians.

    If you go further back, records were used to support the sale of sheet music. People were focused on playing the music, not listening to it.

  7. Exactly, and these days, the DJs are the stars. Not that I have anything against DJs, I know quite a few in this town. But the kids have no idea who actually produces the music they hear at parties, they only know who spins it. Actual musicianship has become almost a novelty in many circles.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.