It's been quite a bad month for the record labels, huh? Kicked off by Radiohead's ditching
record labels in order to embrace the new business models that the record labels insisted were dangerous to the industry. In retrospect, it looks like they were just dangerous to the record labels (gee, who could have predicted
that?). The latest huge name to ditch a record label appears to be Madonna, who is apparently signing a huge deal with a concert and merchandise promoter
instead for over $100 million. She'll still be putting out albums through the promoter rather than the label. There's no indication if she's going to use this to free up some music, but the point should be pretty clear. The money is in concerts and merchandise -- the stuff that the music makes valuable -- not in the music itself. While EMI's new owners have made some noises
that maybe they understand what's going on, there's a good chance that it's way too late for the old labels. They had their chance to embrace fans, new technology and the music itself -- and they spent 8 years suing the fans and the technology instead. It's reached the point that college kids are now organizing to protest the RIAA
. It's becoming increasingly clear that the labels weren't helping musicians very much either -- and now it appears to be payback time. This isn't the "fault" of piracy. This is the fault of shortsighted recording industry executives who had every chance to understand the economics
at play and instead chose to attack everyone (and there were lots) who pointed out to them where the market was going.