Major Labels

Four Major Label VP’s On The State Of The Industry

Jon Healey of the LA Times moderates “The Majors: Strategic Imperatives” panel at NARM 2009. Panelists include Mike Jbara of WEA, Amanda Marks from  Universal Music Group, Jennifer Schaidler of Sony Music and Darren Stupak from EMI Music.

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  1. I’m hearing a lot of talk about advertising and business models and NOTHING about TALENT and why the hell a lot of acts SUCK, and why there is no more versatility in what they are putting out!…I’m only 10mins in right now so lemme be patient…

  2. The Majors – not much has changed
    Product – a Major Label term for “Artist and there music”
    Consumer – a Major Label term for “Fan”
    Artist development – no Major Label term for that
    They never cared much about the peril of the artist and their unfair low airplay royalty rates ( 3.5% of a Radio Stations total revenue). 15% would have been be more like it.
    Now that CD’s sales have tanked along with their $5.00 profit at wholesale per CD unit ( artist if they were lucky got $1.00), they now want to swap payola for airplay royalties.
    Welcome to the club.

  3. This is a conference about business.. National Association of Recording Merchandisers i.e. people who sell music. There is no creative discussion because that was not the topic.

  4. The problem with the majors is that those kind of people being interviewed here are running them. Seriously, are they talking about music or medical equipment you can’t tell the difference. The major labels have long ago lost sight of the fact that they were supposed to be finding and growing Talent. Instead they sign music, or should I say “Acts” based on a percieved “marketability” vs quality or talent. They have churned and burned out bands they sign in a period of 6 months or less, their development time is faster than I can send a twitter. They are not connected to “humans’ they are machines run by machine like people who forgot about human nature. They are still living off the backs of the catalogues that the early A&R people signed back when Musicianship came first. Led Zeppelin would not get signed today ( too rock) , neither would Van Morrison ( not good looking enough), Bruce Springstein would have been dropped after the first single didn’t “take” at radio and so seriously folks – technology is not your problem , it could have been your advantage if the ‘product’ you had been producing had been “REAL” if you had worked on growing , nurturing and gaining loyal and true listeners for ‘real’ bands.
    There is a new generation and they don’t equate success with Records scanned, they equate success with being able to play music and earn a living from it. Managers will be the new labels, the good ones already are because it’s about picking talent you believe in, sticking by it and then caring about all aspects of that artists career, mystique, fan relationship, touring etc. Something that can not be achieved within the confines of a corporation of salaried people, who get paid whether it succeeds or not. Good managers do not have this luxury therefore they make it succeed and only get involved with something they believe in to begin with. Major labels are bottom line watchers, and that formula does not work with Patience. Yes, Patience is a virtue, seldom possesed in some, but in major labels Never.
    PS- this goes out the “THE Informer” – People Who SELL music should talk about it as Music and not like bolts for manufacturing. Again, that is the problem – People who have No passion for music are the ones in charge of it at Major labels. It’s the equivalent of hiring a Harvard MBA who doesn’t like basketball or know how to play it to coach the Lakers thinking his business accumen might make the team more profitable, then wondering why they Lose every game and people stop buying tickets – it might have worked at first – people trusted the Lakers so they came to the games, until the team is failing – then they stop supporting that team. These people we just watched are the “Coaches” for the 4 Major Label Teams? yikes no wonder everybody’s no longer interested in their game.

  5. If the label execs are first setting up a business model and then look for music that fits it and its expected core audience, then the outcome is what they get today.
    But when you do it the other way around and start out with the maybe unusual or weird but good music and then look for a business model to market it, it’s kind of like the old days that talent gets the exposure it deserves and listeners get hooked by the special style of the music rather than by the special style of marketing tricks.
    When you’re hooked to a musical style, you’re likely to buy more units of that style whereas when you’re hooked to a marketing trick, well, you don’t buy anything anymore once you’ve found out about it.
    The labels are meant to be the service providers to the artists, but once they want creative control, the artists turn into service providers for the business model of the labels. And by this point, the business model just doesn’t sell anymore.

  6. Artist development – major label term for the spin that the PR department are doctoring to get the public interested in an artist and their music
    It surely doesn’t mean artistic development, but to develop an artist for a market or to develop a market for an artist.

  7. I am confused. How does one have this type of conversation in a passionate, music oriented way? What would you have asked them (based on the topic of business strategy for selling music?)

  8. Right, there’s nothing creative about it…except the product itself, genius.
    These people are what happens when Colleges offer A Music Industry degree….4 nothings and a guy with questions for them.
    The one guy says “it’s rather early in the business model to come to any conclusions…” Nope, wrong…it’s late…too late for you in fact, to continue your gravy train swindle. Here is the new model: you have to know love, and develop music to sell it in a sustainable manner and these people can’t do any of that….how do I know that?….because if they loved and knew music then they would find a way to work music and the artists who make it into their answers…they didn’t do that…not once, so that’s that.
    I am so happy to see it continue on this way…Major Labels please, please, please… do please continue hiring accountants to fix your sink….it’s obviously working out so well.
    brendan b brown

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