At the "Music Business Crash" that served as the pre-opening for the NARM convention, held in the Century City Hyatt in Los Angeles May 10-12, the speakers helped to dispel one myth commonly held by the digerati press: that the internet has leveled the playing field making record labels obsolete.
While the playing field has been leveled, it has created an easy entre for artists, making it harder to get noticed. In the old days, Rolling Stone magazine carried eight album reviews, some of them two pages long and written by music writers like Lester Bangs, which would make readers take in every word. Nowadays, there might be 30 reviews in there.
"While there are a lot more outlets to help get your artists noticed, each outlet reaches less people," Compass Records co-founder Garry West said.
In fact, with more releases coming out nowadays, record labels are even more important if you want your music to get noticed, A2IM president Rich Bengloff said.
But if you are a label, West added, you see a lot of bands that don't understand what it takes to build a career. He said he likes bands that take the approach, "ready, aim, and fire," but what he sees more often is bands that "fire, then take aim and try to get ready."
The difference, according to him is that nowadays a lot of bands have no fans and haven't played live but are putting out albums because they can get it on iTunes. In the old days, groups like the Band and the Beatles played, respectively 8 years and 5 years every night before they even went in to record their first albums.
The former approach, however, might be more appropriate for today since many music listeners are only interested in songs rather than albums. Mike Clink proprietor of Mike Clink productions says he would be hard pressed to find anyone he knows who will listen to a song all the way to the end.
When moderator Ted Cohen of Tag Strategic asked if the consumer will ever get back to the days when they had a relationship with the album, the producer responded, "I think we are stuck," in a track market.
But DJ Nu-Mark, formerly of Jurassic 5, said he likes the way things are now. In fact, he added that if he had a way to do his career over, he wouldn't put out an album worth of songs at one time. He says instead of releasing an album, he plans on putting out two songs a month to make his music more palatable for fans.
May 10, 2011
By Ed Christman, Los Angeles