Thoughts About Survival Part 3

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With the advent of cds during the 1980s, the major labels opened a double pandora’s box that they’ll never be able to close- 1. by vastly overcharging listeners for new releases and reissues on cd, creating complete animosity in their consumer base; 2. by moving recorded music to a digital format, creating a medium that could be easily transferred to internet consumption at nearly zero cost. These issues, coupled by the way major labels treat most of their artists (financially and economically), produced a complete lack of public sympathy for the corporations who created the demise of the traditional “music industry” which had dominated the music market throughout most of the 20th century. The hostility created by the majors’ greed is well deserved I believe.

The problem is that this listener frustration, that has motivated many music fans to rip as much music off the internet for free as possible, has impacted the independent record labels too. Most of these labels are quite small, usually run by a single individual who, like the artists they document, work very hard for very little financial compensation. Added to the problem is that the major record stores (does anyone remember Tower, Virgin, HMV?), which benefitted immensely from corporate support (major labels cutting huge deals to major record chains, making it harder and harder for the independent shops to compete with corporate pricing schemes), went out of business due to mis-management and a sluggish response to the changes altering the music industry, a parallel that the lack of direction the major labels took.

Not only did independent labels often lose thousands of dollars in unrecoverable merchandise with this steady demise of the chains, but their other main outlet for distribution, the independent shops, had been steadily going out of business as well (I cannot count how many times a great record store was gone when I returned to a city the next time on tour).