Music Industry, an infinite Journey:
Part II – The Present

"A" is for the A-List of Chinese Restaurants #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2Z

As an illustration of this situation, 21,911 albums were released in 2000 in the UK, this compares with 52,552 albums newly available in 2009. As for local releases investments, we can notice for example how in 2007 in France there was 14 international artists with a promotional campaign investment exceeding 1 million euros, including 2 artists over 3 million euros of promotion budget, those numbers were down to 4 and 0 respectively in 2014. In the other side, 13 local acts had promotion budgets over 2 million in 2007 against 14 in 2014. As the crisis strikes, majors have less money available and react by restricting their investments to low-risk profile artists. The hardest part for the artist is not to sell well, it is to prove your universal appeal is big enough to justify large investments on your shoulders. As the music industry is not as profitable as it used to be, that “big enough” must be bigger than in the past. During the 90s, each main major had from 10 to 20 A-List artists that received huge promotions worldwide. Nowadays, each major only have 2 or 3 such artists. Even past glories a la Mariah Carey got their status downgraded being now promoted in lower profile medias in most countries.

As mentioned in the XIX century part, music industry has three distinct parts – the composition, the recording and the media. Originally, there was no media at all. Labels were owning property rights on the composition and later on the recording. Obviously, they earned a lot of money thanks to the media arrival and its operation during more than 100 years. Therefore, when the possibility to move on digital sales bandwagon appeared they were pretty reluctant. That’s why they were ten years late on this evolution, losing both the media profits and distribution earnings was of no interest for majors. Their complete legitimacy was questioned on this new environment. Independent artists get more and more numerous. Confirmed acts start thinking about releasing themselves from majors constraints a la Radiohead who released in 2007 the cult album In Rainbows independently. Another impact is the universality of artists ending decreasing even more, explaining once again why blockbusters hardly come out anymore. The whole irony of the Adele phenomenon is the fact she is the new universal artist the industry was looking for but did so while signed by an independent label.

Even though all performance indicators were dark green in 2010 to believe the crisis end was close, majors nightmare got real: not only their legitimacy is doubted, in 2013, after two years of stagnation digital sales started its downfall.

1 thought on “Music Industry, an infinite Journey:
Part II – The Present”

  1. This is a fascinating collection of essays, I want more to come.

    The most interesting thing is what it shows about our current world. When it comes to music (and any other thing), the “hardware” part has never really been that important. And it is all the more clear now that we are approaching an era where the physical format will be insignificant. It is all about the knowledge.

    Many societies work around that, but I know many countries, including mine, where most people associate progress with the manufacturing sector, whilst it is actually the services (knowledge-intensive) sector that brings progress. Well, not sure if I’m making any sense out of this. Very intriguing.

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