Wednesday, August 24, 2005

E Talking

Forging ahead into the future of 1999, just consider smaller labels have been doing the same thing with releases that are likely not profitable to press for some time, Warner Brothers just announced a new "e-label":
Warner chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr said: “Our most important job is to work with artists and help them hone their craft.”

Bronfman said that too many young artists were being dropped when their first albums did not sell enough copies.

He explained: “While the old system allowed an artist time to develop and grow, today's business is such that an initial commercial failure for most artists means they no longer get a second chance."

While I'm pleased that the majors are looking for new ways of funding artist development I am puzzled why it's "today's business" environment that is to blame. I remember reading articles in the late 90's in Rolling Stone and Spin about the major label's movement away from traditional artist development towards picking up bands that already had achieved local radio hits and other situations where they signed bands to release a specific song. It's not like the one hit wonders haven't always existed, but the music industry is foolish if they don't realize they own the lion's share of the blame for the commercial climate of the music business today.

I also read another article about the same announcement where they mentioned the bottom line response of big labels to government policies (like the recent Supreme Court ruling that allowed the Betamax doctrine to stand):
"We like government levies when they benefit us," Bronfman said. "I would like none of the legislators in France, for instance, to say they should no longer pay us a levy for all the blank CDs that are being sold, (though) it doesn't make up for the revenue that we're losing...If the government mandated filtering technologies, we'd be delighted."

: Remember, it’s their most important job to help artists…

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