Music industry not dead yet – but record stores will be

Feb 8, 2004 16:04 · 357 words · 2 minute read

A couple of new articles about the state of the music biz. Music Business Registers Pulse in Time for Grammys is one of these “business is up, despite some failures” sort of articles.

After all, sales are relatively sluggish for the latest releases by such acts as rock bands Limp Bizkit and P.O.D., pop singers Pink and Britney Spears (news), rapper Missy Elliott and Latino crooner Enrique Iglesias.

For some reason people are still surprised when albums from established artists don’t do well. In music, previous success is no guarantee of future success. Tastes in music change, and most musicians need to change as well if they’re going to continue to have successful careers. As they make these changes, some changes will connect with a broad audience and some will not.

On a positive note, this article reports that a much broader spectrum of music is selling now, which is how business is up overall. That’s a positive trend, because that means that maybe we’ll start hearing a wider variety out of our Clear Channel stations. One of our local stations used to play almost entirely hip hop and now I’m hearing more Linkin Park and Evanescence in the mix.

On a down note, financially strapped record labels are cutting a cost center that is actually a huge part of their business: artist development. That’s like a software company cutting R&D during a down year. It makes no sense, because without it you don’t have a product!

The Washington Post is talking about record stores planning for their demise and trying new things out to keep people coming in. One record store owner says that in 10 years, they’ll all be gone, and I think he’s right. I’ve been listening almost exclusively to MP3s for 4 years and the listening experience is much better. Now that online stores are becoming more reasonable, things are going to being their slow march that direction. I’m sure that we’re not done with business model innovation in that space though. (There hasn’t really been any business model innovation yet… some will probably come along in the next couple of years, though.)