Don’t Label Me
Do we really need huge record labels anymore? I’m not a music scholar or even someone who’s taken the time to do an in-depth study of the role of record labels and how they manage music across the world. However, I am a consumer and internet junkie with a lot of opinions and theories, so here goes nothing…
After a quick search on the all knowing, all seeing, and altogether (if not newly) ubiquitous Wikipedia, I’ve found what I think to be fairly good evidence to start tapering off our consumption of big label music in favor of cheaper, smarter auditory satisfaction. Traditional record labels basically do three things. They make and distribute albums. (LPs at first and now CDs) They conduct A&R (Artists and Repertoire, which is basically scouting for talent and mediating between the artist and the label), and finally, they enforce copyrights and contracts (or sue people). These things are all fine and good when you have a finite number of artists, controlled access to decent recording/ mixing equipment and one or two mediums on which the music can be stored and sold. But as we all know, that is no longer the case.
Technological advances have allowed people to create full and completely professional albums in their garage, upload it onto the internet for people to purchase or share, all while promoting themselves through viral videos, weblogs and podcasts. Sure, there are lots of little bits of business that get lost, like, bribing radio stations to play certain artists ad-nauseum, or big buck media blitzes that put songs in commercials and tv shows so frequently that people forget where they actually came from.
I think I can live without that. I think that the time has come for the netlabel. The branding and marketing element that record labels bring into the music trade are no longer helpful, consumer centered, or even lucrative. Do we have to listen to ‘brand name music’ to get the required enjoyment from our universes’ most potent pleasure? Copyright laws and the web will eventually make peace with one another and buying music online will be as easy as…iTunes! Do we really want one of our most precious art forms to be controlled by glorified law firms? Don’t get me wrong, there’s a great deal that labels can do to distill and develop artist potential, but they’ll always use capitalist reasoning to choose which artists they invest in. I think it’s time that consumers took over this responsibility. We can handle it. We’re already doing it now, here on rifflet.com