Rich Esra publisher of the Music Business Registry has published an extensive year end wrap up on GEMS TotalAccessLive.com web site of trends in the recording industry starting with label closings and mergers 121 A&R staffers who lost there jobs last year. Of those 121 only 13 found new jobs in A&R and over all only 39 A&R people were hired nationally, a 51% decline from 2003 according to Esra.
What does this mean for the future? Esra says "the train of thought today is that the ‘old’ process of signing, recording and developing talent takes far too long and is way too costly to achieve the results they desire in the time they have allotted. As a consequence, whether intended or not, (and this is the part many people simply can not see) is the Major Labels are now in the Promotion and Marketing business, but of course, only for those experienced artists who have already been developed that can be turned into Multi-Platinum sellers...."
"It’s fascinating to observe some of the most influential Music Publications out there today such as pitchforkmedia.com, Blender to name 2 have hardly any mainstream artists in their Top 50 of 2004. Today, it’s all about choices. The future of this business will be thousands of niche artists selling fewer records. Much like cable television, which has a fraction of the audience but is profitable..."
"Under the old paradigm, the public, the majority of the time, only wanted (with few exceptions) what the Major Labels signed and sold to them (of course, that may have something to do with what was available, which is our point). Today, choices of music, are vastly wider and you have a far more diverse artist selection, not to mention the various new formats – are almost infinite. And, as most of us have known for years, the market is far broader ... than the Major Labels ever cared to acknowledge. How else could Ray Charles sell two million copies of a CD via a coffee chain or James Taylor sell over one million Christmas CD’s via Hallmark without his CD even being available at retail? If either of those artists was at a Major Label, (James Taylor was with Columbia/SONY for 27 years up until last year) they most likely would not have sold more than 100,000 copies– tops!"
"These two examples provide an insightful illustration why several of the Major Labels are struggling today for their very survival. They truly can’t see what their customers want. But in much deeper sense they have no desire to get to know what their customers want either..."
"The building of careers is a luxury of time they no longer choose to contribute to. They THINK they do, but the reality is the opposite..."
'The Revolution has begun!'
to live, but no longer do! The personal, business and artistic successes we are seeing today are from those individuals who can peer through this fog of delusion and see the business as it actually is; not as they want it to be or hope it will become, but how it actually is..." "The opportunities today are vast and limitless for those artists, bands, managers, and other individuals and companies who truly understand what is actually occurring, who can step back and see the decaying mechanism that many are still struggling to maintain for what it is – not only a crumbling business model, but an entire way of viewing the world in which we used to be...losing sight of what the most fundamental elements are in this business – Artist & Audience..." "Another example is The Scissor Sisters, who went to the UK to launch their career, and have found been able to build an audience for themselves."
"Forward-thinking Artist Managers, Agents, Venues, Indie Labels and the artists themselves are the ones who have become (and truthfully have been for some time) responsible for building the next generation of career-artists. There are many current examples that illustrate this. Look at what Ken Levitan (Vector Management) has so tastefully achieved with the launching of Damien Rice’s career. Or how Coran Capsahw (Red Light Management) helped build and develop Dave Matthews’ career before RCA signed him"
"...These artists will have built their following over a long period of time, not through hype and over-exposure on MTV or other media outlets that in so many cases actually damage careers instead of enhancing them. More than ever, we are looking for something real, something we feel a connection with."
"Careers are not supposed to be events, that have huge a build-up and then are over like The Super Bowl. The best ones are long journey’s that are built on a solid and viable foundation that can sustain a wide array of paths and experiences. Each of these artists was able to build extremely solid and viable foundations without a Major Label and in most cases, no mainstream radio airplay at all. What these artists (and their managers) do have in common (regardless of genre) was an entirely new way of thinking and approaching the marketplace with regards to the development of their careers. They all utilized new and non-traditional methods that did not have the luxury of an enormous marketing push behind it to create awareness... But today with so many more marketing and exposure options available to artists (ipods, Internet radio, websites, non-traditional retail) the artists who develop and build a career for themselves won't necessarily be household names in the first few years, but they will have a built a very solid base of fans that actually want their music
THE FULL ARTICLE IS A LONG BUT WORTH READ AVAILABLE HERE.