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Crap Your Pants, Say "Waaah!"                   
Written by Jon Whitney
Friday, 06 January 2006
The returns are in, and, according to this article from Reuters, the
music industry has hit an eight year low for sales.  Among corporate
labels, there is much fretting and wringing of hands.  Reuters,
however, fail to recognize the non-major label music industry, who
don't seem to be pissing and moaning.  Major labels are a dying breed
due to their own avarice, and nobody's gonna cry when they die.

The four major labels (there were six when we started banning major
labels on Brainwashed: two down, four to go!) haven't woken up to the
new reality:  more and more people don't want to pay for shitty
corporate music and shitty corporate tactics.  Why should they?  The
money isn't going to the artists and it isn't going to hard working
employees: it's going to computer companies who develop malicious
spyware that destroys your computer, payola, and RIAA lawyers, who
continue to sue mothers who have nothing to do with any illegal
operations.  The majors don't even respect their product as an art
form: pick up a major label new release in any store some time and
look at the big FBI WARNING that occupies a large percentage of the
artwork!  Do bands even realize this is happening?  Do these people
even exist as artists or is the major label world slowly transforming
all human beings into business executives with an eye for money and
money alone?  Shouldn't the FBI spend their time investigating the CIA
for faulty terrorist intelligence or "protecting the country?"  We all
know they failed at least once, but that's no reason to quit and shoot
for smaller fish... like your best friend's mom.

The independent labels might have taken a financial hit but that is
mostly related and limited to independent distributors' increased
difficulty with placing product in stores—I haven't heard anybody
complain about online sales and touring merch.  Many bands in the
independent music world came to terms years ago with the fact that
album sales don't bring in much anyhow—it's actually the touring that
ends up paying the most.  The downside is that it's tough to live in
an urban area where the rent is high and time on the road doesn't stop
bills from accumulating. Of course, recording "artists" like those
found on any Now, That's What I Call Crap compilation haven't had to
worry about that for a long time, if they ever had to worry about it
to begin with. RIAA members are going to have to learn that they are
only choking themselves by fighting the same battles over and over
again. Call it Musical Darwinism, but labels cannot possibly survive
by trying to change the environment they exist in.

Many lessons can be learned from this, and the major ones are taught
in every Business 101: listen to your customers and know your market. 
Consolidation and merging with large corporations only distances the
consumers and the market from the decision-makers.  It also has
effectively destroyed the identity of labels started by visionaries
with dreams in mind by putting the control into stockholders' hands
and not into the hands of artists or music enthusiasts.

The major labels need to take this trend as a warning: their days are
numbered if they continue to feed consumers crap, destroy their
computers, and sue them.  How many people would you support who rape
your mom then piss all over her?