Today’s NYT carries an article that sites further evidence that the major music labels are getting creamed by indie music and net distribution and promotion methods.
In a world of broadband connections, 60-gigabyte MP3 players and custom playlists, consumers have perhaps more power than ever to indulge their curiosities beyond the music that is presented through the industry’s established outlets, primarily radio stations and MTV.
“It’s not as easy to shove something down people’s throats anymore and make them buy it. It’s not even that they are smarter; they just have everything at their fingertips. They can go find something that’s cool and different. They go tell people about it and it just starts spreading.”
There are several signs that as more consumers develop the habit of exploring music online they are drawn to other musical choices besides hitmakers at the top of the Billboard chart – a trend that suggests more of the independent labels’ repertory will find an audience.
And here comes the long tail!
On the Rhapsody subscription music service, for example, the 100 most popular artists account for only about 24 percent of the music that consumers chose to play from its catalog last month, said Tim Quirk, Rhapsody’s executive editor. In the brick-and-mortar world, he estimates, the 100 most popular acts might account for more than 48 percent of a mass retailer’s sales.
2005 will be the year that the music business truly changed. Breakout acts like Clap Your hands and say yeah showed that blogs and a little free access to your music can help propel you towards success. Sony may have mortally wounded the idea of DRM, Apple has put 60gb of music in our pockets, and Howard Stern may kill terrestrial radio with his move to satellite.