Ruby writes in to alert us to an interview with Radiohead's Thom Yorke
, where he tells young musicians not to sign with a major record label because they're completely dying, and in the very near future:
Yorke claims the mainstream music industry is dying and that this will be "no great loss to the world" before telling aspiring musicians not to tie themselves to the "sinking ship".
Yorke suggests it will be "only a matter of time -- months rather than years -- before the music business establishment completely folds"
That seems like a hefty exaggeration. While it is true that the one major label that Yorke has worked with, EMI, may end up "going under" in the next few months (more likely, it will get bought out), the other three major record labels, while struggling, aren't going anywhere in a matter of months. The key point that he makes, though, is valid: young musicians today don't need the major record labels -- and, in many cases, it's quite risky for artists to sign a deal that locks them to such a label for many years. That is not
to say that record labels can't help artists or that they're not needed. For some
(perhaps many) artists, labels can be quite helpful. But, with the industry in flux right now, the major labels
might not be the best place to go to try to build a career. Yes, they have marketing experience, but more and more indie acts are figuring out how to break out without the majors, and the "cost" of signing with a major is quite high in terms of control, rights and ability to experiment both artistically and at the business level.