Has The Recording Industry Reached The Bargaining Stage Of Grief?
from the seems-like-it dept
Instead, the word that I kept hearing was "quiet." Almost everyone you spoke to mentioned how "quiet" Midem was this year. Attendance was down (apparently about 10% from last year, when I remember them saying that attendance had also been down about 10%), but that's not too surprising given the state of the economy and the general turmoil of the industry. However, it was still quite well-attended, and the thing I noticed was that there was actually quite a lot of activity going on behind the "quietness." And that activity was dealmaking. Lots of it. I talked to many people working for companies that are enabling and embracing new business models, and they were swamped with deal opportunities and discussions. Sure, the major record labels have all but disappeared from the show, but the companies that are enabling what comes next were quite busy -- just behind the scenes.
In thinking about it overall, I began to think about the famous Kubler-Ross model of the five stages of grief. You know the one: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I'm beginning to think that the recording industry has reached the beginning of the bargaining stage. Last year, we were still seeing the end of the anger stage, which followed a long period of denial. I think the bargaining stage is what we see with things like the pressure to get three strikes laws passed around the world, rather than suing individuals. It's what we see in the ACTA negotiations behind closed doors. While it's not as loud and as angry as what we've seen in the past, it's still a bit questionable. As Wikipedia notes:
The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the individual is saying, "I understand I will die, but if I could just have more time..."That sounds about right for the recording industry, doesn't it? Of course, rather than a "higher power," it's politicians around the world. I have no idea how much longer this stage will go on, but it's worth noting that the fourth stage is still depression, which apparently involves much "crying and grieving" and during this stage "it is not recommended to attempt to cheer up" those going through the grieving process. I'm not quite sure how exactly that will play out in the recording industry, but if this is accurate, then the industry will need to go through that process before finally reaching the acceptance stage that it needs to get to.
All in all, though, like the stages of grief, this is part of the necessary process, and it should be seen as a good sign that the industry at least appears to be moving through them, rather than hanging onto denial and anger completely. Midem itself was actually quite encouraging in that regard, and I'm hopeful that going forward we see more and more positive signs of an industry coming to grips with the changes thrust upon it, rather than still trying to hold back the tide. So while Midem may have seemed "quiet" this year, I think it was actually a sign of good things happening.