What do you think caused the music industry's troubles?

The music industry constantly whinges about its woes, and the impending demise of Tower Records underscores the changes taking place within the current marketing model. What do you think is the root of the music industry's troubles?

What do you think caused the music industry's troubles?
CD prices too high
29% (56 votes)
Poor selection of new music
26% (50 votes)
CD format is stale
3% (5 votes)
The move to online music
12% (23 votes)
I have no idea
2% (3 votes)
They're doing just fine
2% (4 votes)
Consolidation of radio stations/Move to constrained playlists
10% (19 votes)
17% (33 votes)
Total votes: 193

Dave Bennett's picture

What happened to all the good music? I'm hard pressed to find anything new worth buying.

Al Earz's picture

I think that we "audiophiles" forget that we are a very small group that is shrinking. The youth of today doesn't concern itself with quality. They start out wearing disposable diapers and then all through life, the more they buy, the more they throw away. So, music is an "okay for now" medium. They buy online, compress it onto a computer or iPod, and are content with the bass line. I also add CD Format is stale. Read Fremer's comments on the technolgical nightmare of vinyl—and we are in the midst of the resurgence of vinyl. We don't get the listening pleasure out of a CD unless we spend $6k or better for a player. Also add poor selection of music. When was the last time you were "blown away" by a new CD? Last, are the prices. How can we say 12150;18 for CD is too much when we spend up to $30 on vinyl?

J.Liguori's picture

They send mixed messages, CD prices are too high, there's no support for new releases in SACD & DVD-A. Also move to online music. They made a mess themselves. Sony now supports new music Dual-Disc? Instead of SACD?

tonyE's picture

The established music industry has been killing itself because: 1) Deemphasis on A&R, 2) Emphasis on blockbuster hits, 3) Continuing high prices, 4) Shallow catalogs, 5) Competition from other types of distribution, 6) Competition from drastically lower music production costs, 7) Out of touch with the customer base 8) The big four have become a monopoly. But, just because they fail, it doesn't mean that music per se will, since it's a lot cheaper to make and distribute music today than it was even 10 years ago. The labels embrace an obsolete business model predicated on high costs of entry, production, and distribution, with concomitent high margins and lavish lifestyles. Piracy has little to do with the problems of the big labels. They're simply going the way of the dodo because they represent a collapsing business model.

Cihangir G's picture

Since CD prices kept being high when compared to cheap (or free) downloadable MP3 music, the young generation isn't purchasing the CDs and music industry is in big crisis. Now, people are mainly concerned about the "disposable" type of music. Most of us listen the same albums for years but young people don't. Would you pay $20 for a CD which will be spun just for a couple of weeks (especially if it is copy protected)? I hate the oritected discs and never buy any of them, even if I love the artist. Are we still carrying our big portable CD players and a lot of CDs with us? No, no! Most people don't. Mostly the new albums are not as good as the previous ones. We are not motivated to buy the new stuff at high prices any more (because they mainly suck). Now mobility and disposability are fashionable concerns.

Daniel Emerson's picture

Prices are coming down, but over here in Great Britain, they are still higher than in other countries. It just makes me buy more and more from the second-hand market. Quite frankly, I can wait a few months after something good is released, rather than needing instant gratification.

JML's picture

Corporate greed!

DUP's picture

And look at the crap they are trying to sell. It ain't music, with all this hip hop crap. What ever happened to lyrics, emotion, soul? Let alone music to back up the lyrics—who can listen to the garbage? Current music trends make the '50s and '60s appear like the greatest decades in music ever. The '60s produced some of the most inovative, original stuff ever. In melodies and lyrics and emotional tunes ever. And the variety was increeible, from Beach Boys to Jimi Hendrix, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Doors, all original, different stuff. Now it's all the same two notes and talkin' bout some bitch ho' and the videos to back them up are total shit. Watching the Woodstock movie shows real musicans at work. We are doomed musically, no wonder iPods sell, who needs high-fidelity to listen to the junk produced now?

Jazzfan, New Jersey's picture

Once CDs start selling as well as LPs the manufacturing costs will come down and so will the prices. A big fat lie. Keep the price of a new CD higher than than that of new DVD and is it any wonder that people don't buy your product. All hail the CD burner.

Adrian Lebena's picture

We have been subjected to a bad selection of pop star muscicians in the last fifteen years. Second, there are few modern day (2004, 2005, etc) classical music recordings combined with little to no marketing for the classical music market. Jazz is a niche market at best and it is hanging on at best. Thus we have what we have a depressed market mainly due to bad raw material. If the music were to be truly good (like the '50s, '60', '70s, and '80s), the consumer would purchase the music in any format available. Guaranteed!

John Smith's picture

Actually, there's several reasons. Poor selection is definitely another one!

Randy's picture

The music that I see/hear these days is overproduced trash by "artists" with little or no talent. All that seems to matter to the big labels is how things look on video and how they can market this stuff. They deserve all the success or lack thereof that they have achieved.

Al Marcy's picture

No story here :)

Nodaker's picture

The music they are putting out (popular) just plain sucks. All the better more innovative stuff is coming out on small and independent labels. The big companies have no clue. They are always looking for the next Shania Twain or Britney Spears.

djl's picture

Everybody wants a buck and a taste of the moola, wherever it happens to be. The "free" music with Napster and wannabe napsters kinda put the business in a tizzy. Got the lawyers involved and now what do we have? Music that won't play wherever you want, whenever you want. Musicians with no money. Lawyers with all the money. Record companies consolidating or going out of business. Higher CD prices. Today if you want something rare, you have to look on eBay.

Jim Voz's picture

Ten bucks is a fair price to pay for generally a one hit wonder with filler tunes. Why are Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore allowed to make another album? Eliminate them from the selection and the industry might make a profit

Neil D.'s picture

I see two problems. 1) The CD buying public has aged and is less interested with "new" bands playing stale music, 2) The on-the-shelf-product at most brick'n'mortar outlets continues to shrink in all types of music, but especially in jazz, blues, folk, and classical. If it's not on the shelf I would sooner order it from the library.

Dan Forzano's picture

Well, there isn't one easy answer. Yes, prices were too high. Yes, there was a lack of really compelling titles (or probably more accurately, you had to sift through the mountains of crap they hoisted on us to find the few gems). CD stale? Well not entirely, but it would have been nice to have a more organized, and proactive move to SACD and/or DVD Audio. There are still tons of music and gear shops that still don't know what these are or how they work—alas, they may be going away. The move to online I think was mostly successful due to all of the above (with the exception of audiophile formats that is). And the record companies' failure to adopt and embrace the new media was their own failing (lack of foresight, vision, and an abundance of greed seem the chief causes). Lastly, don't overlook the fact that many consumers began spending their dollars on DVDs, which in many instances are actually cheaper than CDs. How's that happen? They dug their own hole—but if they got their heads out of their holes, they could still recover.

Louis P.'s picture

There are several issues involved, but high prices for CDs seems to be the underlying cause. If the whole album isn't really great, people won't buy it at higher prices. So they will legally or illegally download just the hits. To make up for the lost revenue, the record industry cuts back on A&R. Then they put pressure on the radio stations to play only hits through promotional considerations. So now there aren't that many new recordings coming out even if the public wanted to buy them. On top of that, there the Michael Jacksons and Mariah Careys are the mega contracts that the industry had to absorb, mostly by raising prices. Thanks to the internet, aspiring artists no longer have to sign contracts that amount to indentured servitude for five or seven years, and anybody can distribute their own recordings, so that's just another nail in the industry's coffin.

Brian Huempfner's picture

I don't think there is any one root causing these issues. I think it is a combination of things. I don't think the record companies nurture new artists. I don't think that radio formats are conducive to introducing new artists and styles of music. I also think that the price of CDs is too high, especially for older titles. The recording industry should take a lesson from the movie industry that offers older DVDs at reduced prices. I also think that there are more entertainment options these days with movie purchases as well as gaming.

Chris J's picture

If you don't have music that people want to buy, it doesn't matter what the price or format is. They just don't have the big sellers of years past.

Brian Kheel's picture

I'm not a downloader. I like listenting to albums. But the inability of the companies to agree on a single format is a turn-off. Sony backed SACD but then killed it by refusing to put out dual format discs—did they really think that we'd buy two of each? And the battle continues with the multiple format DVDs. I'll wait on the sidelines. One mistake (SACD) is enough—I'd still like to buy dual format SACDs, but there is too little that is of interest.

John's picture

The major labels are pushing too much crappy music. Major labels are just cabals of trust-funded snobish rich kids who only got their jobs from nepotism and cronyism; they have no ears for real music. The record stores are overpricing CDs; CDs should cost less than DVDs. Radio stations are playing mostly crappy music by phony pop acts that drives away music consumers from radio to their iPods.

David L.  Wyatt jr.'s picture

The industry and brick-and-mortar people concentrate on providing a limited number of highy successful titles. But the market is increastingly orented toward the niche. No record company is going to sell me a Brittany Spears album. But they can sell me something unique. They need to concentrate on quality and let the chips fall where they will.

Freddie Mack's picture

Compression on CDs, poor tape quality, claiming that MP3s with loud bass is high fidelity, and genre drift. Example: country now sounds like elevator quality rock.

vinyl1_at_earthlink.net's picture

They are interested in money, not music. The independent labels that are interested in music are doing okay, and will become the new majors. However, the market will fragment further, as sales will be spread out over more titles and genres. The days when the whole world listened to the same hit records are over.

Jim S.  Place's picture

If you don't know it's out there how can you consider buying it? Broadcast radio needs to return to those thrilling days of yesteryear—dump the playlists and allow a competent DJ a free hand with the music he or she plays for the audience.

maurice cuffee's picture

I guess I have gotten lazy, but the outlets for hearing music have seemed to have dried up. I am spending more money on buying old music I don't have than new music.

Greg Crouser's picture

1) The record companies are very greedy. When a movie on DVD costs less than $20, most consumers think a CD should be under $10, 2) Consumers are greedy and are thieves. They'll happily steal if they can. Simple isn't it ?

Dave M.'s picture

There is no one single answer, but the absence of compelling new music is the primary culprit. And that can be traced back to record company executive short-sightedness and greed. Also, the downfall of MTV as a quality music channel, the consolidation of the analog radio stations, and the dumbing down of the record buying public (by the aforementioned record executives, by narrow-minded oh so trendy music critics and by even narrower-minded FM radio programmers) can also be blamed. You want to cure the record industry? Here's the answer: LET IT CRASH AND BURN. When the big money disappears the sharks will go on to find other easy pickings. Then, hopefully, some people with vision will come and rebuild a better model—a model where the artist gets his/her due, a model where originality and ambition is seen as a plus and not labled as a pretention, and finally, a model where all kinds of music and bands are welcome and given a fair shake.