we've heard for the last few years that downloading is what killed the "record industry."
a recent article at blender.com listed the "20 biggest record company screw-ups of all time," suggesting that the demise of the industry has been a long time comin':
#20 As grunge dawns, one label bets on hair metal
#19 The industry kills the single—and begins its own slow demise
#18 BMG dumps Clive Davis, begs him to return
#17 Thomas Edison disses jazz, industry standards
#16 Warner pays for Wilco record twice
#15 MCA’s teen-pop calamity
#14 Stax Records unintentionally gives away the store
#13 One label’s big spending single-handedly ends “alt-rock” boom
#12 Geffen pumps millions into (the nonexistent) Chinese Democracy
#11 Geffen sues Neil Young for making “unrepresentative” music
#10 Columbia Records loses Alicia Keys, drops 50 Cent
#9 “Digital-rights management” backfires even more badly than usual
#8 Warner junks Interscope
#7 Music publisher gives away Bob Dylan
#6 Casablanca rides strong sales straight to the poorhouse
#5 The RIAA sues a struggling single mom for digital piracy
#4 Indie promoters take the major labels to the cleaners
#3 Motown sells for a pittance
#2 Decca Records A&R exec tells Fab Four, “No, thanks”
#1 Major labels squash Napster
read the article. comment on any one of the twenty. or add to the list with your own tales of record company screw-ups.
well, my mama used to tell me, "if you don't have anything good to say....let jimmy swaggart say it for you."
i'm all for offering solutions rather than just pointing out the problems. which i think is what's been happening in a few of the other threads.
i think the point of the article is that the collapse of the industry isn't simply because of recent events. it's been a series of missteps. and i have to wonder if it's too late for the labels to change course. there are too many holes in the boat and not enough buckets to bail.
we've talked quite a bit about branding. one of my biggest indictments leveled at the labels is that they haven't protected their brands. and i'm not talking about the artist brands. i'm talking about brands like rca, sony, mca, capitol, etc. they have consistently failed to deliver on brand promises and have been totally in the dark about shifting consumer attitudes and trends.
as a result, you don't hear people talking about these brands in warm, fuzzy terms. you have consumers and artists alike waging war against them. for the labels to survive, they must change their culture and re-examine the core values of their company mission. they need to get back to the essence of their brands.
what's unfortunate in all of this is, like the enron debacle, there are a lot of wonderful, creative people who have suffered. folks who have lost jobs. lost deals. been forced to go to work in another industry they might love less. that's the part that pisses me off the most. the mishandling of someone's talents and dreams is just as morally repugnant as the mishandling of someone's pension.