Is The Music Industry Lazy?


Will.I.Am said it best at Midem this year, that the music industry is ‘lazy’ and ‘delusional’. He believes record labels need to become more like tech companies. The rapper believes that the labels need to stop competing with each other and compete with Apple, Samsung, etc. Will.I.Am believes a new business model should be put into effect. New streams of income are much needed. Will.I.Am said, “We should’ve been Facebook first. Our industry should’ve been Twitter. Our industry could’ve been Apple! Our music industry is powerful, but we don’t use it like we should.” “Why is Sony competing against Universal? As a matter of fact, how did Sony lose? They had the camera, they had the record company, how did you lose to Apple?” New revenue has not been maintained in the industry, and something needs to change in order for the industry to gain new revenue.

Even Prince has expressed his frustrations for lazy music executives. Prince was interviewed for Essence Magazine and said, “Every time I talk to the heads of large companies, they’re always at the beach. Middle of the afternoon. What are you doing? ‘Oh, I’m at the beach with my kids.’ So we’re working to send their kids to college. And to the beach. We’re not supposed to accept that.”

East Village Radio is set to close this coming week. It is a commercial-free radio station located in a New York storefront. The general manager, Peter Ferraro is frustrated because they have to close due to high royalties. The record labels abandoned the traditional radio for streaming services. Frank Prisinzano, owner of East Village Radio stated, “We get penalized every time we have a new listener. We have no ads. When we get more listeners, that doesn’t translate into more dollars.” Prisinzano went on to say, “When you look at the whole David-and-Goliath thing…we were a small outlet trying to champion traditional sales of music. Everyone else is championing streaming. What always baffled us was label presidents talking about Spotify, when they should be trying to sell records.” Prisinzano is right. The music industry should not be concentrating on companies like Spotify, they’re passive partners that create less revenue. In my opinion, the music industry leases the building instead of selling it. Instead of taking a risk they go for what’s safe and comfortable.

Another passive music platform is Lyor Cohen’s 300 Entertainment, which is a new independent record label that has partnered with Twitter. Twitter and 300 have created metadata software, which collects and monitors key words to help discover trending talents in targeted areas. Companies like 300 Entertainment uses less resources and by resources I mean people and money. Companies like this shrink the industry even more and they are less effective than traditional methods of music discovery. This is a passive way of finding new talent. I feel the music industry needs to be more aggressive by taking more risks and stop relying on outside parties to handle their distribution, marketing and creative work. The music industry needs to have a balance between business and creative outlets. Maybe the music industry needs to go back to the old school model with new technology.