We've been talking a lot about various musicians that seem to have adapted to the changing marketplace, and have adjusted their business models in ways that work well, but it's good to point out the record labels that have done the same as well. There's a myth out there that folks like us hate the record labels and want them to go away. That's not true at all. We think there's a great place for the record labels: to be the business arm of the musicians, to let the musicians focus on the music. But, those labels need to learn to embrace the marketplace as well. We've certainly seen a few who seem to have figured it out, such as Terry McBride's Nettwerk, Martin Thornkvist's Songs I Wish I Had Written, JY Park's JYP Entertainment (in that same link), Open Your Eyes Records and a few others as well. Bruce Houghton, over at Hypebot, now has a great interview with the indie label Asthmatic Kitty, where they explain "what is working" today, and it hits on a bunch of the points we often highlight around here: I operate under the conviction that people buy records because they want to own them, not because they want to hear them. It is too easy these days to hear a record without having to buy it. I don't resent that fact, rather I feel we at Asthmatic Kitty embrace it through streaming albums and offering several free mp3s (even whole free albums). And why do they want to own it? They want it to illustrate to others their taste and identify who they are as a person. I also believe they want to be part of something bigger than themselves, they want to belong. Our job is no longer to sell folks things they want to hear. They want an experience and to identify themselves as part of a community. Ownership then becomes a way of them supporting your community through investing in that community. Fostering that in an honest, transparent and "non-gross" way takes a combination of gracefulness, creativity and not taking oneself too seriously, while still taking art and music seriously. And meanwhile, we still have the major record labels whining about how there are no business models because of "piracy"?
There are, thank goodness, a few people that can think out of the box.