The Wild West

A number of recent posts have been making reference to the record industry lately. Not in a good way. It’s no news that big record companies are in trouble, record stores are closing and the huge artists are griping about lost revenue. The whole digital music revolution threw a turd into the bread maker that was the music industry. And it’s about time.

If you continue doing business the same way in a climate that is changing daily, you’re eventually going to run into trouble. It’s pretty simple. The big record companies are losing money. Is that because fewer people are listening to music? Hardly. I do not personally know anyone that does not own an iPod — we have three in our house. With iTunes I’ve built a record collection I could never have dreamed of. And it’s all legal and legit. I’ve never stolen music and I don’t plan to. Was my large and diverse collection of music made possible by the big record execs? Nope. It was a California based computer company that opened the doors to the digital music world. Who saw that coming? The revenue stream for music, advertising, and now artwork and photos is changing quickly. Traditional ways of marketing these mediums is not going to work, yet there are still big reputable companies trying to do just that.

I really like this post by Seth Godin from Dan Kennedy’s book Rock On: An Office Power Ballad. It made me laugh and also lays bare the disconnect that has happened between the artists and the ones promoting them. There used to be a someone called an A&R person; Artist and Repertoire. They actually helped develop and artist and build them up. Support them with creative input, studio time and lots of PR. You know the first high level people that where let go when the record companies started to struggle? The A&R people. Now the idea of “getting a record deal” may just be a threat to your career. You can feasibly walk away from a deal owing the record company!

Another post by Rob Haggart aka A Photo Editor discusses how big magazines are bending under the pressure of big advertisers and passing along all that bad behavior to the poor editorial photographers. Basically, they hold the cards so they feel they can manipulate the game.

I’d like to put it out there that we hold the cards. The artists, musicians, designers and photographers. We can stand firm and manage our brands well and use the new media to our advantage. We are the little guys. We can move quickly and efficiently. These days we can self-market and self-promote more effectively than ever. We don’t have a row of executives standing in our way of success or telling us it’s not “the way it’s done.” So, why don’t we do it? Let’s change the game so that it favors the ones creating the content not the ones buying it. This is our time.


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  3. by Danie Nel on March 2, 2009  1:07 pm Reply

    Being a recording muso (but still just a passionate amateur) and a publishing commercial photographer, I can't agree with you more. We're holding the cards and the product, and we just need to find ways to supply it to a market with rapidly changing expectations and needs.

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