What do record labels need to do to survive and thrive?

What do record labels need to do to survive and thrive?
Here's what they should do
34% (42 votes)
They're simply doomed
62% (78 votes)
I have no idea
4% (5 votes)
Total votes: 125

CD sales are down, online sales and streaming services are inching forward, and most record labels are in a world of hurt. What do record labels need to do to survive and thrive?

KRB's picture

I wish I had an idea for them. I still buy CDs because they have no DRM and CD's the highest quality format available for most music and the medium serves as an archive.

theonlyway's picture

Kill off all the younger people.

C.  R.  Shabab's picture

They need to raise revenues from bundling advertising with their products, allowing the consumer to purchase it for little or no cost. Sell the inside sleeves of CDs as ad space. Make full resolution downloads available free of cost from licensed sites which incorporate innovative advertising technologies. They need to do their jobs and master the stuff properly so that there really is a downside to using MP3s over CDs. Respect and woo the high-resolution market instead of ignoring and confusing it as they are the people who care about the quality of their music and are often willing to pay for it. Kill DRM—don't shackle the customer before they have comitted a crime and then blame them for engaging in criminal activity. DRM just engenders animosity. Encourage the creation of music as an art, not just a product, and people will pay for it to support those who touch our souls. You're less likely to cheat on your wife if you really love her. Just look at the sales of the Beatles catalog.

Cihangir Güzey's picture

Drop the prices of CDs. Yes, lower profit hurts. But, hey, no profit kills.

Lila's picture

I have no idea, but reducing compression would only help.

DV's picture

Sell high-rez music (24/96 and higher). This is the only way to make me (and others?) spend again.

kc's picture

Unless they improve the quality with quieter, higher dynamic-range recordings, which people are willing to pay hard-earned cash for.

Michael's picture

To beat illegal downloading, they could simply stop compressing/brick-wall limiting the music and use dynamic range and lower distortion to make a difference to the user.

Dave L's picture

I guess record stores / CD shops will disappear, too. So I wonder why there aren't physical stores that sell digital files in the media many want.

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

Continue to press more high-quality, faithfully mastered LPs.

Jimmy's picture

1) Disassociate themselves from the RIAA. 2) Start their own music-streaming service where consumers are allowed unlimited downloads for an inexpensive, flat-rate yearly fee.

Hal's picture

Lower their prices.

akimo's picture

Let the artists produce content without interference and homogenization.

Rob's picture

Record better quality artists. Good artists are too few, most are the same old same old middle-of-the-road artists instead of truly great diamond-in-the-rough artists, when it comes to rock. Jazz & classical new artists always impress. Price of CDs should be lower, especially direct from label and even more so more if using a downloading online service.

John Stewart's picture

Convince musicians' unions to take less pay for symphonic recordings.

rwp's picture

Find great talent, original talent, and support it.

Jim Tavegia's picture

Offer high-rez 24/96 PCM discs on DVD+Rs for audiophiles. Offer them as retail items or as website purchases. It will never happen, but that is what I would like to see.

ch2's picture

Quality, quality, quality.

CharlyD's picture

Offer three tiers of content quality: Tier 1: Studio master (eg, 24/96) lossless or uncompressed wrapped in strong DRM. Tier 2: CD quality (16/44.1) also wrapped in DRM. Tier 3: Lossy compressed with no DRM. Discontinue distribution of new releases on CD. Distribution would be only as protected files or a new format supporting DRM. There would be lots of squawking over this model, but I don't see any other realistic solution.

Christian's picture

Act like the indies and ignore the Top 40 market. PIAS, Matador, and Rough Trade do okay and have some great artists.

Gymrome's picture

Record labels need to address the needs of adult music lovers by offering music for grownups. Music that is fresh, new, and well-recorded, sans all tricks and short cuts. Recording live to tape or digital would be ideal, especially if all musicians and vocalists are in the same room, performing together at the same time.

John in d.c.'s picture

End the loudness wars, emphasize quality and promote it, and invite, through a unified ad campaign, people to fall in love with music all over again

Johnny B.  Good's picture

Who needs a label? We live in a label-free world. Music is now a community thing. In the label world, the scout was looking for talent. Later, the scout was looking for a product. Who needs a label when all you need/want can be downloaded label-free, right from the artist?

lcflyer's picture

They need to re-release music from the '60s, '70s, and '80s in high-rez audio for the baby boomers who have the money and the the sound equipment to play them back on. Stop the MP3 crap.

Dan Coffee's picture

The Internet is killing CD sales. WTF! I support music bands, I buy CDs! It's a moral crime otherwise.

Fred's picture

Sell with less profit margin and survive with volume sales.

Xanthe's picture

They're doomed, and that's great news! The world doesn't need them supporting and marketing mediocre acts that are mainstream popular and nothing else. Their distribution system is outdated and overpriced. They have lost relevance. And good riddance to them. Now we'll see a range of interesting and quality music from a range of genres, all at great prices. It's like we've left the tunnel.

df's picture

1) Lay off the idiots that got them there. 2) Market talent, not formula. 3) Provide value for the dollar—I want a product that's worth what I pay for it. If it's packaged, make it a good package. If it's a reissue, make the remaster something special and include extras that are actually good. Maybe even allow downloads of extra content. 4) If it's digital only, provide high-rez (lossless) content or don't try charging almost as much as the physical media. 5) Stream content for free to expose people to the lesser-known bands and songs.

Dismord's picture

Avoiding compression would help.

Nero's picture

Make high-rez audio downloads available at a reasonable price and make efforts to get better sources than just CD, use some of Mobile Fidelity and JVC high-rez techniques to master 24/96 versions and educate the public about how great they are.