Wednesday, 19 January 2011

are record companies finally getting something right?

ever since Lars Ulrich put down his drumsticks and picked up the phone to start ringing his lawyer, it seems that record labels have been several evolutionary steps behind the rest of the world as music, and the way it has been consumed and marketed, has drastically mutated in the late 20th century since the catalyst of Napster changed things forever

but this week it was reported that two of the big boys, Universal and Sony Music (who between them boast the likes of Lady Gaga, Foo Fighters, Kanye West, Kings Of Leon, Rihanna and Susan Boyle amongst their top flight artists) have announced a new policy that will see singles available for immediate download to coincide with the new release debuting on radio.
which finally makes some sense, this can only have a positive effect for the coffers of the music industry, providing that it isn't already too late to reverse the illegal downloading habits of certain individuals.

of course, it was always the case that a song would hit radio long before it's physical release, meaning that those unlucky enough to be exposed to one of the FM frequencies throughout their working day would be completely sick of a tune they once liked by the time everyone else has had the chance to go out and get it into the charts.

and if you desired a single before its eventual release, the best you could do before was to have your cassette deck all ready to go in the hope that you'd catch your new favourite song being played, praying that the DJ wouldn't talk all over it, and then patiently wait for the tape or CD to hit the shelves of Woolies.

but those days are long behind us now.

along with the aforementioned cassettes, CDs and Woolworths, release dates have become a thing of the past, because in this digital age, if you want to look for it, it can usually be found, and when Fearne Cotton politely informs you that the song you just heard won't be out for two months, well.... you're just gonna have to download it illegally then aren't you...

Sony Music chairman and CEO Ged Doherty, seems to have got the message, confirming that "we live in an age of immediacy", while Universal Music's UK CEO David Joseph agreed, commenting that "for a lot of our younger fans and consumers the word 'wait' is no longer in the vocabulary."

"You hear something and want it. And if you search for it then you’ve got to make sure there is a legal site for that appetite." concluded Joseph.

And doing occasional turns as a DJ, I couldn't agree more, hearing a banging choon makes me want to take it out and share it, yet the medieval system of lengthy release dates makes it impossible to obtain the track legitimately and simply being restricted to songs that have already been released only serves to dilute the thrill of introducing people to new music and trying to give them something they may not have heard before.

it is quite likely that this will be too little too late to change the opinions and habits of those that don't want to pay for their music, and is unlikely to stem the tide of piracy that has been hurting major labels in their pockets, but at least it is finally a sensible, albeit delayed, decision from a couple of the major players in the industry.

Grenade (Bruno Mars cover) by Anhayla

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