What do you think will happen to the major record labels?

Stereophile's picture
The major record labels were riding high, then hit a major speedbump due to the Internet, high pricing, and mediocre music. What's next? What do you think will happen to the major record labels?
What do you think will happen to the major record labels?
Here's what I think will happen
66% (33 votes)
I have no idea
34% (17 votes)
Total votes: 50
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Comments
zuberjk's picture

I think that the major record labels will have to adjust their business models, but they will survive. There might be some mergers and acquisitions, but the record industry is still a cash cow, especially if they use digital download services properly. I think it's purely a case of the record industry not making as much as they were, even though they are still turning very healthy profits.

Hal's picture

Probably depends upon what Steve Jobs decides to do next.

dimitri19's picture
We stream pandora, and

We stream pandora, and 8tracks at work all day. Printing jewelry labels and replacing the paper labels is tedious work but these labels are so much better than the paper tags, and easier to keep track of inventory.

Woody Battle's picture

The major record labels will do what they have always done: 1) Rely more on marketing than on talent to sell new product; 2) Push old recordings in new formats and packaging; 3) Acquire some of the smaller labels. Unfortunately, the small labels' ability to find/nurture new talent goes away the moment it is acquired by a major label.

Robin Landseadel's picture

Record labels right now are essentially useless. Musical acts can and will make more revenue by self-production/self-distribution. As for concert promotion (where the real money is), record companies will no longer receive a cut, boo hoo. As far as Abbey Road Studio is concerned, turn it into a museum.

Pete's picture

It's only dim if they stick to their 20th-century business model or expect the catalog to float them to solvency.

jimmy's picture

All labels will disappear. Finally, the musicians/artists will have control over their content & will able to "sell" their product to the highest bidder (ie online music services). Hopefully, the RIAA goes away too!

JS's picture

Major label music wasn't mediocre before Napster?

Nathan's picture

While I'm sure there will be some consolidation and contraction, the smarter major labels will find a means to survive. One approach is to create objects that people want to own and to cherish. Another is to find means of making money out of downloads. A third would be to diversify their business. The Internet has not damaged the demand for live music. Record labels could issue live recordings of the concert you just attended (I have seen this done, the CD was ready one hour after the last number ended). Smart, tenacious labels will survive.

struts's picture

I suspect we'll see a sort of rerun of the reforming of the airline industry. New players analogous to Southwest/Ryanair will emerge that have their fingers on the pulse of consumers and will redefine the market while being very successful. The traditional majors will attempt to respond, pretty ineptly at first. Some will succeed, most will fail and just get eaten up. What I think is unclear at this point is who these new players will be. Will we have heard of them?

xanthia01@gmail.com's picture

They'll fade into insignificance. And good riddance to them for the reasons listed above. High prices, physical product, and the same canned mass-selling music.

dan coffee's picture

Maybe labels would be okay, if 90% of them would stop stealing music off the Web!

Michel van Aggelen's picture

Music will always be among us. I even think the quality of music is still very good, but it lasts shorter as more songs arrive to us. The media will change, within a short time all music will be available through the 'net. Now, as far as the High End is concerned, I just hope the major companies can follow this track.

Jonathan Allen's picture

It has already happened in the classical market. The majors are dead and simply reissuing back-catalog. They have been replaced by labels like BIS, Hyperion, Chandos, Pentatone, CPO, orchestra-owned labels, and, of course, Naxos.

Noah Bickart's picture

They will die, and they deserve to do so. They have presented the market with little value, charged excessively for it, and continue to sue their most loyal customers.

Daniel's picture

I think the industry will contract, then the people who try to justify illegal downloading will start bitching and whining when their favorite artists get dropped.

Dimitris Gogas's picture

Do you remember what's happened to some major banks these last few years? The record labels' fate should be even worse.

Antonio G.'s picture

If major record labels want to survive, they need to get more into vinyl and also offer high-quality downloads (Studio Masters or FLAC), like Linn Records, while still offering MP3 for the younger generation who care more about file size and less about sound quality.

mike's picture

The majors will endure as marketing firms. They will offer branding, promotions, management, touring, and production services, which artists will "purchase" either as a package deal (think large pop acts) or a la carte (think indie rock). The explosion of independent labels and music blogs have already eliminated most functions of big-label A&R. The result is great for artists—you no longer have to be picked up by a major to reach a wide audience. The down side is a dearth of of quality recordings. I listen to a lot of indie rock, and am constantly disappointed when I buy a 180-gram pressing of a godawful home-brewed recording.

Kar S.'s picture

I think a lot of the major labels will eventually disappear, but inherently, we love music and will continue to purchase new music albeit in different media and delivery systems. I think the smart labels will realize that in order to survive, they have to go back to first principles and release music that is actually made by talented artists that people want to listen to. Since the mid-90s, the labels have been trying to cash in on so-called "performers" who don't really have any musical talent. This has been their downfall, not the little guy downloading music for free over the Internet.

OvenMaster's picture

The major record labels must adapt or die. I foresee maybe one major company (EMI? Sony? Universal? Warner?) being sold at least in part to Chinese investors. Others will merge. Some, if not most, will eventually drop CD sales entirely and go download-only. Very sad.

Seth G.'s picture

I do know the labels are all pretty much sticks-in-the-mud with nothing more than a mediocre catalog to show for the last 10 years, so I don't expect much anymore. Their continued survival is what I find most surprising.

Oliver's picture

They will shrink as long as they do not learn from the small labels.

Napalm's picture

Once they're nearly bankrupt they'll get bought at fire-sale prices by Apple or Google.

Steve Lees's picture

The more they jump up and down trying to "protect" their investments by hindering those of us who are more than happy to purchase music, the less relevant they become. Even the artists have had enough of them.

ulah's picture

A slow and painful death, due to greed and poor-sounding recordings.

Hugo Rosa's picture

They will still be selling music as always. If not on physical formats, then over the Internet using stream or download services. But the majors will not disappear.

D.A.B., Pacific Palisades, CA's picture

There will be a vinyl resurgence, which is already well under way. Vinyl will nudge CDs/downloads into the abyss. Consumers will find that not only will the vinyl format provide superior sound quality, but that by purchasing vinyl, they are also making a sound economic investment.

hal's picture

Hmmm. Tough one. Lots of people don't pay for music anymore and, in fact, don't believe music should be paid for. Digitizing music is convenient but it makes it worthless: it's just a computer file now—which is why I bought a record deck for the first time at the age of 29 and started collecting vinyl. I don't want files. What does that mean for record companies? Will they eventually collapse because people stopped paying for music?

frank's picture

Just bought The Incident by Porcupine Tree. Prog and jazz are about all I buy. Of course Blu-ray has some great concerts.

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