The music industry thinks that we the customers are to blame for their falling sales. But actually a lot of their problems are due to them failing to embrace a new business model. Or even to a certain extent them working out what that new business model is.
But there is another problem. There are two kinds of publicity out there. The manufactured kind and the newsworthy kind. The former is pop stars going on kids TV, the latter is a star getting themselves caught doing something illegal. The first kind will increase your record sales a bit, the latter will make you number one.
Now record companies and management have a conflict of interest. They want their stars to act illegally because that sells records faster than writing a good record ever could.
Take Pete Doherty and Amy Winehouse. They are so much more famous for their antics than their music. Both are talented (or at least were in Doherty’s case – I remain unconvinced of his solo work) and yet that wasn’t enough to make them famous. What made them famous is that they are prominent drug addicts.
Well I’m not about to get high* and mighty about drug use but I can’t help but be concerned about the other side of this equation. The talent of these artists is being put at risk by what they are doing and the only people who can stop them are their management. But their management don’t want to stop them because what they are doing is selling records.
The problem is that all of these antics will only ever sell one rubbish album. After you’ve bought one rubbish album you won’t want to buy another one. And that’s where the record labels are injecting themselves in the foot.
* Whoops unintended pun alert.