DEBATE: How will Labels Compete with DIY Technology Down the Road?
Jeff Price, former CEO of TuneCore, made a very valid point in a post published on Hypebot about labels’ future versus the growing technology in the DIY sector; labels are going to have to adapt or die and they might look very different in 10-15 years.
We’ve already seen the seeds planted by Amanda Palmer and Radiohead; selling on your own has worked for big artists after they’ve broken through the invisible “popularity” barrier. How are labels supposed to cope with this going forward if their artists start to think there’s more out there for them if they just use Bandcamp or Kickstarter to make their money going forward? All bands would need is a booking agent for their tours and handle their sales directly from their laptop. Where does the label fit into the picture as technology continues to grow rapidly?
Hypothetically, let’s say most major artists start leaving their labels after their contracts expire by the masses, what will labels do to combat that drop-off? They could eventually just have nothing to do with sales, and just be firms focused corporate branding, studio work, etc. The other option is that smaller labels would disappear and big labels would be forced to increase turnover and churn out new talent on a faster rate. Is that even feasible? Who knows…
The point is labels are forced to change by the sucess and development of DIY sales and distribution, and it won’t be long before most major artists will own 100% of their royalties. The irony of a somewhat grim storyline like this is that it would probably help music in the end. When artists have more control over their business, it can only help the art in the long run.