Two players in the music business have been apparently silent in the “crisis debate”. Musicians and publishers. A lawyer suggested it was because they’re afraid to get in trouble with record label bosses and fans. I don’t agree with that description. I’m sure that they are keeping their mouths shout because they know what they have and how valuable it is. The musicians are the source and the publishers sits right next to it. The source of everything the music business does is the tunes, melodies and words – the music. The artistic skills can never be taken from the musicians. Music has always been an extremely wanted treasure and will always be.

* Costumer care – if we lose our customers, artists and fans, the party will be over big time

This was one of the arguments we put forward from the seminar we held last month. Record labels are middlemen between two sets of costumer, artists and fans. The labels task is to process and market the music to be able to sell it to people that like music. For some years it has been apparent that the gap between music fans and record labels is huge. This is a big problem that have to be solved really soon. But a really worrying tendency, that has grown lately, is that the other customer group is losing patience as well. Artists, the providers, are dropping their labels one after one and they have been started to play a role in the debate – and they are not taking the record labels side.

Joppe Pihlgren, singer of the Swedish pop/punk band Docenterna who released their first album in 1980, recently said that artists have no reason to take the labels side since “artists only get 10% of the money anyway and the labels spend money on fancy offices at fancy locations and drive around in expensive cars”.

Also, Techdirt is reporting that Kid Rock is in conflict with Warner Music. The label had encouraged him to denounce file sharing but he ended up denouncing Warner instead: “Wait a second, you’ve been stealing from the artists for years. Now you want me to stand up for you?”

So, here we have the record labels. Brokers between two customer that both dislikes them. Anybody but me that hear the alarm bells?

The two problems are closely tied together and have its roots in the record labels failure to change their models to the reality of today. Fans doesn’t want to pay as much (or anything) for a mp3s as they did for a plastic disc whereby the labels isn’t able to pay much as they did to their artists.

To improve on the fan side the business will have to embrace the new technology and start listen to the people that understands it. When it comes to the artists labels will have to start treat them as the treasure they are. Keywords for the relationship between labels and fans is fair, transparent, accurate and up-to-date. Kobalt, a publisher, promoting themselves in this direction and think that the future will show that is a smart move.

A modern record label need to put its customer first to survive – both fans and musicians.

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