Off the Record: The Future of Major Record Labels

With the digital music sales overtaking CD sales, major labels are now looking for alternate revenue streams, including ringtones, merchandise, tours—everything but music. Record labels call it 360 degree deals. We call it sign of things to come.

The Internet has turned the traditional recorded-music model upside down. For decades labels have been signing bands, compensating them for their first record and promotional video, moving the music to radio and retailers, organizing concert tours, and helping to peddle merchandise. In the recent years, Fans and artists have started questioning this model and are asking that if music is available digitally, why is there a need for middle men between artist and the audience?

Bands and Artists like Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails (NIN) (formerly with Interscope Records) and Paul McCartney (formerly with EMI) have broken the mould and pursued avenues beyond signing with Major record labels and have been quite successful at it. They get complete creative freedom and the ability to build a direct relationship with a relevant audience.

Let’s look at what has changed. A record label used to play an important financial role because it invested money upfront to record an album, which could cost tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now artists can buy DAWs like Logic, FL Studio or Ableton and practically get an album out from their basement studios.

Major Record labels, as we know it, might not be the same in the next couple of years. Overall revenues for the Big Four—Sony/BMG, Universal, Warner (WMG), and EMI Group have been flat or declining for more than four years. Universal’s acquisition of EMI is a move towards an attempt to revive fortunes by forming a larger entity. This critics of this merger suggest that it could lead to Universal using its power to block the launch of new digital music services and higher prices for physical recordings (Read this letter to the FTC for more details). Once prominent British record label HMV has filed for bankruptcy protection and has started massive workforce reduction (Story here). Record Label executives are trying to come to terms with the shift and are struggling to adapt to the digital music revolution.

Digital is the new paradigm. Artists don’t need a record label to handle marketing and public relations anymore. Musicians are now marketing savvy and can connect with a global audience from the comfort of their homes through a choice of social networking options and emerging technologies like Video streaming, Virtual Gigs and Social Engagement. Back in the days, record labels used to work the radio stations, too, to get music on the air. Now you can shoot out MP3 copies of your music via e-mail or affordable promo services to anyone, anywhere in the world.

With all these changes in the game, it is going to be interesting to see how Major Record labels will play their cards. With distribution and retail going digital, they are likely to focus more on commercial aspects of the business such as events, merchandise and endorsements. Would it then make sense to call them Record Labels? Would it still be a big deal for Independent Musicians to chase them and get signed?

The answers will probably be as interesting as the questions posed. As an outfit involved in Independent Music for while now, we can tell that Online Music platforms focused on Independent Music are the future. iTunes, Spotify and Pandora have revolutionized the digital music space and there are some new startups that are taking it to the next level. Integration of music sales & marketing is going to be the next wave. With a platform that can integrate fan acquisition, ecommerce and digital marketing, Artists can focus on making music while the platform does the rest.

The Music Scene needs an iapploud

iapploud is an integrated music sales and marketing platform on the cloud for Independent Music. iapploud is a digital music store with a built-in intelligent marketing engine, helping independent artists market, sell and build a relevant fan base on a single platform.

iapploud - independent music sales & marketing platform

See the video to understand what iapploud is all about:

How does iapploud solve the problem?

Independent artists can stop chasing record labels.

– iapploud is focused on bringing quality INDEPENDENT MUSIC to the fore.
– iapploud addresses all the artist needs; sales platform, marketing tools and fan acquisition

BYE BYE middlemen:

iapploud works directly with independent artists empowering them and ensuring that the Artists stand to gain most from their craft.
– Lion’s share of revenue passed on to artist; buyers are rewarded as well
– Independent artists don’t have to use multiple platforms and tools.

iapploud integrates music sales, marketing and fan acquisition on a single platform:

– Our unique marketing engine provides artists and listeners the tools to achieve exponential online reach, going beyond “likes” and “followers”.
– With sales and marketing being addressed on a single platform, artists saves on steep distribution costs and subsequent marketing efforts

Piracy doesn’t pay, iapploud does:

– On iapploud, fans get lucrative rewards for promoting and buying music. This encourages buying behavior helping keep piracy at bay.
– The rewards, engaging user experience and cool features make iapploud a preferred music platform for music enthusiasts/fans.

Top-Notch Quality of Music:

– iapploud’s carefully selected eclectic catalog features independent music across genres from around the world.
– Special catalog of traditional Indian genres such as Carnatic, Hindustani, Regional Folk Music, Bhajans & Kirtans and rare genres like Dhrupad

Interested? Sign-up today and upload upto 12 tracks for FREE. Click here to get started

iapploud - Being Independent PAYS!

iapploud – Being Independent PAYS!

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Stay Independent. Being Independent PAYS!

Team iapploud

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