Indie Labels

Dave Goldberg’s Memo: A Radical Re-envisioning Of The Music Industry

leakedA document leaked in Sony's inadvertent data dump last year shared former label and tech executive Dave Goldberg's vision for a radical re-envisioning of the music industry



dave goldberg

Dave Goldberg (C. Michel/Creative Commons)

Dave Goldberg, who died last year, was a former Capitol Records label exec who later went on to help found Launch Media, which was eventually sold to Yahoo! Goldberg was never shy about sharing his views for the future of the label industry and those views were encapsulated in a memo he sent to Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, which was part of the data released after Sony was hacked last year. 

In the memo, reported on by Steve Kafka at Recode, Goldberg shares his views on what he sees as a path for labels to remain viable in a future dominated by streaming music, but a path that would require changes that may prove too radical for the industry to countenance. 

“I think this amount of reinvention has rarely been done inside a public media company and it would be tough for Sony as a company to stomach the complaints from artists, employees and related parties,” Goldberg wrote in the memo. 

Goldberg recommended these key points: 


  • A dramatic reworking of the digital music licensing system to encourage innovation in the digital streaming sector and to provide v 
  • Start focusing on catalog instead of trying to sign big ticket artists. Labels should focus on fewer new releases and sign smaller acts who require smaller advances and lower marketing costs, seeking to generate a steady stream of good music without striving for blockbuster hits.
  • Reduce labor costs, particularly in A&R and marketing while at the same time, increasing investment in technology to more effectively track and leverage licensing revenue.
  • Reduce high overhead and low impact international operations. 
  • However, Goldberg's most radical suggestion was a complete reworking of the digital music licensing revenue system. Goldberg advocated flexibility in deals offered to streaming music services to allow them to find new and better ways to drive subscriptions. 
  • Goldberg suggested offering flat rate deals to large players like Spotify and Youtube, allowing them to better tailor music consumption to their users. 
  • ""If Netflix wanted to pay 200 MM per year to give all of its 40MM subs a music subscription — that should be encouraged, not scoffed at,” Goldberg wrote. 

via Celebrity Access

Full text of Dave Goldberg's memo via re/code

Dave Goldberg

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1 Comment

  1. Having looked over the Sony dump it was very interesting searching for clues about their distribution.
    BTW. The point about catalog was really driven home during CMA-Nielsen midyear report showing 56% of all activity being driven by Catalog vs new releases. Other genre wheren’t much different.
    Come on through think about it. Having your title(s) available via,, and ready for any store to order them means that fans can start BuyingThis(TM) where and how they want and it’s pretty easy for Altavoz to make it happen including our new
    PS walk into a box and you will see physical product getting more prominate placement include in Best Buy being at the front entrance as well there are ads on TV everyday for the Blu-ray DVD upgrades and like my HS marking teacher said if they’re still advertising it years later (the Gin-sue knives) that means they have the money from sales to do it.

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