by Mike Masnick

More Musicians Route Around Music Labels -- Go Direct To Retailers

from the new-models-forming dept

In the past, we've written about Starbucks' success in producing and selling CDs by artists such as Ray Charles and Bob Dylan. It appears that other retailers have taken notice. Rajesh writes in to point out the news that Target is now signing deals with "older" musicians, and will sell their CDs for $9.99. As Rajesh notes, these kinds of deals probably make sense for everyone. Without the record labels involved, the musicians conceivably get better deals, and while the retailers probably make some money on the music, the real benefit to them is in the advertising value and getting people into the store. It's been clear for a while that the only successful retailers of music now view music as a loss leader, which means that a store like Target probably isn't even all that interested in making money directly off CD sales, so long as it brings more people into the stores. For people who seem to think that their can be no other model for musicians other than signing big record label deals, here's yet another example of why that's wrong. That's not to say this is the right business model for all musicians -- but it's simply one of many alternatives that are starting to make themselves clear.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    JJ, Feb 2nd, 2007 @ 1:44pm

    This article makes sense but is a bad idea for groups who have not made it yet.

    I agree that musicians can and should avoid the music industry, when they have the power to do it. Once a musician has made it big, the musician has all the power.

    Unfortunately, Most musicians are not set. They need funding from record labels to promote them worldwide.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Joshua, Feb 2nd, 2007 @ 2:03pm

    I disagree with the idea that you need the big labels to make it. Take one of my favorite bands, Bad Religion, for example. When they started they decided to start their own company to handle production and distribution of their albums. Today, Epitaph, the company started to distribute and press their albums, is one of the more successful 'indie' labels in the US.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Hulser, Feb 2nd, 2007 @ 2:12pm

    This article makes sense but is a bad idea for groups who have not made it yet.

    That's a good point, but anything that breaks down the control the record industry has on the market is a good thing in my book. So, maybe it's going to be established artists that blaze the trail for new modes of distribution, but it will be the up-and-coming artists that will ultimately benefit from a more open, free market environment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Sam, Feb 2nd, 2007 @ 2:35pm

    If this does become the norm the music industry will simply make up and coming artists sign contracts for more and more albums. Thereby keeping control of them for a longer period of time.

    Overall, I can see established artists taking full advantage of this though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Feb 2nd, 2007 @ 2:47pm

    The tighter you clench your fist...

    This seems like a move in the right direction. Its good to see new methods of distribution come up since it promotes the thought that record companies that do nothing but insert themselves as a middleman/woman between the artist and audience. If more artists realize that they can distribute without the aid of a big label then the artists and we the consumers will be better off.

    And of course the expected reaction from the labels will be to try to "coerce" artists in to longer and more restrictive contracts preventing them from leaving the big labels and going to other methods. Just like the article that was posted yesterday, the big labels were in the prime position to take full advantage of digital distribution but the dropped the ball.

    If they weren't so fixated on making the biggest score with the least effort they may have realized that they could have taken the lead and offered deals to retail stores for the artists. This would have kept them in the loop of distrbution, won the approval of artists (which would have draw in more undiscovered talent), and won the praise of us the consumer. And in the long run they could have been the big winner. But no they chose the easy route and opted for the quick score.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Erv Server, Feb 2nd, 2007 @ 2:52pm

    Nothing new about....

    eliminating the middle this case the music labels. Better for the artist and the consumer. The labels will realize they have been torquing off not only the consumers all these years but the artists as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Dave, Feb 2nd, 2007 @ 4:22pm


    Many parts of the music business would make the mafia blush. So finding other ways to sell one's music is excellent.

    As to the comment that someone should make it with the majors and then they'd have the "power". Well, yes. And then I woke up. The odds of making it with a major label are near zero. Many bands don't know this; they are certain that they'll make it, and that their music is completely new and will take the industry by storm.

    Even if you beat the odds and get a deal, it's hugely stacked against you. Just paying off your advance against royalties kills many a signed band. And of course if the band doesn't understand how the business works (the vast majority), they're ripe for the screwin!

    So if someone's creative enough to figure out how to make a decent living (or better) finding another way to distribute their music, I applaud them!!!! Though the odds are still long, they would rise above zero!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    lemonobrien, Feb 2nd, 2007 @ 5:04pm

    The future is DIY

    check out Tamago

    Its young, and not ready for prime-time; but its business model kicks ass.

    basically artist upload their music, set the royalty rate they want; and fans who distribute their music earn sales commissions. Both the artist and users get paid cash.

    the labels on't even know its coming; that is, the revolution.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    T Man, Feb 2nd, 2007 @ 8:31pm

    A Whole New Source of Revenue for Musicians

    This approach appears to be a win-win for everyone involved. Artists need to be as creative in their marketing strategies as they are in their music itself.

    T Man

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    ScytheNoire, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 10:01am

    good, glad to hear more musicians going around the music labels.

    i know of a group that was offered a record label deal, refused it because they were doing pretty good marketing themselves online, and the label actually made threats and told them how they'd make sure they fail. pretty outrageous but shows how scared the labels are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    k-tel, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 9:01am

    used to do this in the seventies

    When an artist's label contract would expire, K-tel would hire them for a studio session and release a greatest hits album.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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