Putting the Puzzle Back Together
… today’s most influential music companies [are] increasingly eating into one another’s core businesses in a bid to grow their prosperity. At the center of this trend are those music-streaming services “doing a Netflix,” i.e., investing money into independent artists to create their own content outside the traditional record-company structure. […]
Streaming services are becoming distributors and, in some cases, record labels. Record labels are becoming streaming services and, in some cases, talent management companies. Talent management companies are becoming record labels, while distributors are having a go at becoming managers. (All of these companies, it appears, also want to become video and/or podcast production houses, but that’s a topic for another article.)
This concept isn’t that different than what a traditional major record label would do 20+ years ago (and, remember, there were more than three ‘major labels’ in those days). A major label would have control of A&R, manufacturing, distribution, publicity, publishing, tour support, and so on. And in some (often self-serving) cases the label would also provide an artist’s manager and legal team.
It’s like in the ‘00s the puzzle got thrown on the floor and scattered into many pieces. Now that it’s being put back together the pieces aren’t quite fitting the same — rather than a label providing management or publishing, the current trend is the manager or publisher starting a record label. But without the capital and influence of the flush-with-money major labels of yesteryear, I wonder if many of these new endeavors are spreading themselves thin. I think we’ll continue to see companies handling two or three of these aspects at a time (i.e., publishing, distribution, and A&R) but I don’t feel the trend of trying to do everything under a single umbrella will yield many successes.