Monday, April 02, 2007

Death to Record Companies!

About time, I say.

The arrogant gatekeepers are falling by the wayside (and please, no need to remind me that I am, myself, an arrogant gatekeeper, but the newspaper business has proven quite adaptable in the past, and all signs point to a similar restructuring, already well underway at the OVN), and new business models are blooming all over the place as quickly as sales of recording dwindle.

The latest death knell was sounded a couple of weeks ago when Capitol Records canned its top echelon of Brit thugs they had imported with great fanfare a mere year ago - the cavalry across the pond riding to the rescue. The fact is that the kids of today aren't going to pay $20 for a CD, and all the recording industry lawsuits against college students for Limewire downloads merely delay the inevitable.

But the great thing for those who love great music is that anyone with Garage Band on their Mac and a myspace page can become a recording artist and find an audience. The success of Brooklyn alt rockers Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is a case in point - they sold 500,000 records without a recording contract. The gates have been lifted, and the peasants are pouring in!

Here's a link to an excellent article from Michael Wolff breaking it down - the hows and whys of this freefall. It's almost five years old, but the insight to the mechanics of the music business are quite telling.

What I enjoy most about this time and place is few people under the age of 30 would ever think of going to Sam Goody and paying $20 for a recording when they can get it for free, but would think nothing of shelling out $50 or more to see their favorite bands in concert, where the artists can actually get some cut of the action. More and more musicians are now able to give up their day jobs to hit the road and cash in on their talents, where before they waited around to hit the recording-contract lottery, which were often just elaborate bait-and-switches designed to keep them indentured for life.

If the recording companies had their way, we would not get to hear acts like Damien Jurado or Eef Barzelay (gotta love that name) with Clem Snide outside of the college circuit and folk house open mic nights. Here's Jurado's sweet, poignant "Lion Tamer."


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