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'music industry is on the brink of collapse'


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Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke is warning the music industry is on the brink of collapse, insisting young musicians should resist signing record deals because the major labels will "completely fold" within months.The British rockers broke away from their longtime label, EMI, in 2007 and went on to embrace the new digital era with the release their seventh album, In Rainbows, which they offered up over the internet and allowed fans to choose the price.

 

Yorke has now issued a warning to upcoming artists, urging them not to sign traditional record deals because they would be tying themselves to "the sinking ship."

 

In an interview for a new high school textbook called The Rax Active Citizen Toolkit, which aims to inspire youngsters to become more politically literate, Yorke claims the music industry is on the verge of a major crisis and could collapse completely within "months".

 

He says, "It will be only a matter of time - months rather than years - before the music business establishment completely folds. (It will be) no great loss to the world."

 

Thom Yorke

 

Tell it like it is Thom

 

 

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Woo-hoo!

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thom is probably overstating things a bit. i can see one or two of the big 4 going bankrupt and merging into 2. however, the days of shitty music being pumped out by a big corp are far from over.

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thom is probably overstating things a bit. i can see one or two of the big 4 going bankrupt and merging into 2. however, the days of shitty music being pumped out by a big corp are far from over.

More consolidation is certainly in the cards, but then again the music industry has been consolidating for the better part of two decades. Luckily music keeps being released by independent and semi-independent sources. Is the music industry "too big to fail"?? I dunno, everything seems on the verge of collapse all the time.

 

LouieB

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More consolidation is certainly in the cards, but then again the music industry has been consolidating for the better part of two decades. Luckily music keeps being released by independent and semi-independent sources. Is the music industry "too big to fail"?? I dunno, everything seems on the verge of collapse all the time.

 

LouieB

 

 

too big to fail...i was thinking that too.

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The demand is still there for music, but it could be that the existing structure can no longer satisfactorily supply that demand.

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What was it Mark Twain said about his demise being greatly exaggerated. Yea more music is now being sold online than ever before and some bands can manage to get it out to the fans without going through the major labels. Many bands do that year in and year out, selling hundreds or if they are lucky thousands of copies of their work and more often than not hundreds or even thousands of downloads. But Thom crowing about the end of the music business seems more like bravado than anything else. The distribution of music, at least in physical, ties into a more complex system tham may meet that eye.

 

I had no idea how they distributed In Rainbows by physical product so I looked it up on Wikipedia. Both in the UK and the USA it was distributed by independent record labels. In the UK by XL and Beggars Banquet records which are both indie labels, but really really big and well known indie labels. In the US the album was distributed by TDB, which has ties to Sony. The Radiohead name was made by releasing record through the usual channels and now they can licence their music to anyone they want and still make plenty of dough. They are already a big time group.

 

I have no doubt that the music industry is falling apart. We all see it every day. But having name recognition is still the name of game. Having a major label contract even for a short time is still a good career move for any artist. Most musicians releasing music by themselves can't sell squat, without a significant buzz or alot of luck. Radiohead made its name and money on Parlophone and Capital Records. And while they sell plenty of In Rainbows, their back catalogue is worth a fortune. Without a big name contract they might still be working clubs. Actually now they don't have to work at all.

 

LouieB

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  • 8 months later...

Bob Lefsetz had a post about that the other day.

 

We’re never going back to high prices, that paradigm is dead. At the advent of the CD era a VCR cost almost a grand and you fixed it if it broke, now VCRs don’t even exist and their replacement, the DVD player, which is almost extinct itself, goes for under a hundred bucks and if it breaks you throw it away. We’re still dazzled by technology, but we expect it to be cheap soon, if not immediately. Now it’s all about mass adoption out of the box, and then the price goes down to commodity level. The odds of a new expensive music format coming down the pike are nil. But we can learn from the computer and mobile phone industries, everyone needs to consume/pay for music, it’s just about making the proposition attractive and cheap enough. In other words, we shouldn’t be talking about driving the price up, but down, to gain instant and mass acceptance. As for MTV breaking acts… Ratings were always horrific, but the cumulative audience and the channel’s monopoly in a limited music universe are not easy to replicate, but not impossible. It’s about building a music exhibition/discovery site that features thrilling music. At the advent of the eighties, the dawn of the MTV era, music was exciting, as it was at the dawn of the twenty first century, with Napster, everybody was talking about music, it was on the cover of "Newsweek", now everybody’s on Facebook and young kids want to grow up to be Mark Zuckerberg instead of Boy George or Simon Le Bon, because Zuckerberg does it his way, by inventing something new we didn’t know we wanted. How long has it been since music has delivered this?

 

In other words, the CD era was an anomaly, not to be replicated, and to continue to try to prop up this paradigm is economic death. Labels still make 74% of their revenue from CDs

 

They just have to look at Kodak to see the fallacy in this game. Everybody said digital photography was coming, and finally it did, killing the film business, killing Kodak. But people are shooting more images than ever, we’re living in the midst of a photographic explosion, we’re living in the midst of a music explosion, just because there’s presently less money in the sale of recorded music than previously doesn’t mean there’s not a ton of money to be made in music.

 

Note: Subscription has to win, otherwise recorded music revenues go flat and never recover. We’re moving to the cloud. If people can listen to their MP3s anywhere there’s no incentive to buy a subscription. That’s why we need free subscription before digital lockers take hold, to inure people to paying VERY LITTLE for ALL THE MUSIC. We’ve got to get everybody paying for music, get the price extremely low, it can always go up, like cable, but if it doesn’t start out low, adoption rates will be limited. I’m behind Spotify because it presently has the best functionality. It’s not beholden to the browser, it’s its own app, and this is a good thing. Because of P2P technology functionality is equivalent to ownership. But unless it launches free, it’s dead on arrival and we go to digital lockers and economic death. Rhapsody and Napster proved long ago people don’t want to pay for subscriptions out of the box. But don’t think this means people won’t rent music. They rented movies then paid for them and are now renting them again. The public is malleable!

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I like how people like Thom Yorke and Trent Reznor are telling everyone the major labels on the way down and its a horrible way to do things. They have some valid points. However, they seem to forget that the financial support of these major labels allowed them to tour, record and build a sizable fanbase. Giving music out for free is cool, but only for those who have a ton of fans who want it. It's not so easy for unsigned bands nowadays.

 

For listeners, it seems like a good thing. Music prices are definitely gonna go down. Concert prices will probably go up a lot though.

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I like how people like Thom Yorke and Trent Reznor are telling everyone the major labels on the way down and its a horrible way to do things. They have some valid points. However, they seem to forget that the financial support of these major labels allowed them to tour, record and build a sizable fanbase. Giving music out for free is cool, but only for those who have a ton of fans who want it. It's not so easy for unsigned bands nowadays.

 

For listeners, it seems like a good thing. Music prices are definitely gonna go down. Concert prices will probably go up a lot though.

 

concert prices have already gone up. it's ridiculous.

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Giving music out for free is cool, but only for those who have a ton of fans who want it. It's not so easy for unsigned bands nowadays.

 

 

Tyler the Creator says: You're wrong.

 

The trick is having something people want.

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chart-of-the-day-music-industry-1973-2009-feb-2011.jpg

 

I thought this graph was interesting.

 

i wonder if they've got a graph for the quality in output?

 

anyway, the thing that seems to be implied by "the collapse of the music industry" is that it'll mean the end of music making. that seems to be the implication and the scare- tactic employed when this subject comes up. it's not like the collapse of the coal industry, oil industry etc.... which means the end of those things, all the collapse of the music industry would bring about is that music would no longer make money (or at least not be profitable enough for people to treat it as a sound business move), not that no music would be made. doesn't sound so bad when you think musicians can get normal jobs - remain in the real world (where they all began, and normally the reason we started liking their music in the first place) and continue making music that's actually being made because the artist wants to, rather than to make money. computer production is so cheap now that anyone can make a fairly good album in their bedroom, so their isn't even an argument that the music industry needs to remain to give artists the means to put their ideas down onto tape - they can all do it themselves.

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i wonder if they've got a graph for the quality in output?

 

do you think there's been a change in quality? i firmly believe that every era has had great and terrible music.

 

 

 

the downside to the rest of your post is that it could make seeing small bands who have day jobs play live, unless you live near where they live.

 

not being able to see bands from New Zealand, England, Sweden, Japan (not to mention the West Coast), etc would be a pretty big void for me.

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do you think there's been a change in quality? i firmly believe that every era has had great and terrible music.

 

the downside to the rest of your post is that it could make seeing small bands who have day jobs play live, unless you live near where they live.

 

not being able to see bands from New Zealand, England, Sweden, Japan (not to mention the West Coast), etc would be a pretty big void for me.

 

popular music has declined in quality, so without music industry backing to promote crap acts it should mean people will actually like the best stuff, rather than being told what is the best stuff.

 

as for the live thing, yeah - i guess that's a problem. but, on the plus side you won't have to turn on the telly or radio and hear bad music quite so much (see above for the same reason). i'd imagine the bigger acts who made a living selling their music however that is done when the industry collapses will still tour, i'd imagine and the smaller acts would probably still play live, just you'd have to travel to see them.

 

anyway, i'm not going to be running the scheme once it collapses - i don't have all the answers - the main point i wanted to make is that the collapse of the music industry is not the collapse of music, which is how it's normally sold to the public when discussed.

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