How the Music Biz Killed Itself
by Alex Cosper

Record companies have been sinking throughout the 2000s, still trying to figure out how to fit in with new media, which turns out to be way more exciting than the music that's been coming out. When they say the medium is the message, we are experiencing that concept when the delivery system of video or audio is the revolutionary star of the decade instead of a pop star. The iPod is the musical hero of the 2000s. It's been a bigger hit than any song or artist.

That's one way to explain the downward spiral of the music industry and its ever-shrinking influence on society. Never before has the outlook of major label music been so bleak. Part of the problem is that the filtering process has broken down. It used to be labels would just release a pile of crap to radio and then talented radio personnel would dig through the mountain of CDs to find the one gem deserving airplay. Now the problem is compounded by the disturbing fact that radio no longer looks for talented people with ears for hits (and the ratings prove it).

The music biz began endagering itself in the mid-nineties when big investors began to think running radio was as easy as flipping burgers at a circus. While the music biz lost a lot of genuine heart and soul, honest rock and r&b and all that jazz, radio tried to be too dumb and cute or too jerk versus cream-puff. Either way the combination of corporate radio and the corporate muisc industry was too much of a rip off of a rip off. From the late nineties through the late 2000s both radio ratings and record sales (record means recording which includes CDs) have fallen dramatically. According to the RIAA (the association that represents the big labels) music was a $14 billion per year industry in 2000 but only a $10 billion per year industry in 2007.

Instead of cost efficiency, the big labels have burned cash due to wasted costs of distribution and manufacturing. Eventually the benefits of the internet will dictate completely how music is sold. In 2008 iTunes, after only being around less than four years, became the number one music store in America. It only makes sense that digital downloading is a growing market while hard copy configurations such as CDs of music are becoming a shrinking market.

The convenience of downloading music without ever wasting gas to drive somewhere is only one of the many benefits that produces greater customer satisfaction than the old way of selling music. Another benefit of digital downloading includes easy organization of a music library (just drag and drop songs in a folder or playlist then search for them on demand just by typing in the title or artist). The environmental benefit of avoiding the use of paper or plastic all together make the old way of spending money on depleting resources for instrumental purposes seem thoughtless. The fact that the internet can eliminate distribution and manufacturing costs and can still generate sales of a single unit over and over again is too amazing for the old world music model to last much longer.

If there was ever a time the music industry needed to save itself, the time is now, although it may be too late. As the old world crumbles and the new world invades the present, a new musical landscape is emerging that puts you in charge of your own music selections. The more you become familiar with how to create your own music program, the more you will enjoy becoming your own Program Director. Coming soon will be materials that help you build and manage a digital music library.

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