An excellent article in The Independent today argues that innovation in the music industry is doing well in a healthy indie scene and really shows how what we're doing with Magnatune is part of a larger movement of major label obsolescence: http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/music/features/article342799.ece
As the article says about their top selling big-name acts:
"But the money generated by the tiny percentage of acts that succeed on such a scale is no longer enough to finance the hugely wasteful working practices of the major labels. Crucially, it no longer extends to the long-term nurturing of new talent."
I didn't know about The Record Label, which is similar to the Avie record label model:
"With the launch of The Record Label, Betts has thus turned the traditional business model on its head. Instead of the label paying the artist an advance, the artist pays the label - on a strictly one-off basis - keeps the lion's share of the profits and retains ownership of their masters. This is all very well if the project is a success. But it is easy to underestimate the burden of risk involved."
and this is really true:
"It's virtually impossible to get a record deal these days, no matter how super-talented you are or even how great your manager or agent is," says Cambridge-based singer-songwriter Sophie Agapios, who released her first album, Philosophie, on her own Squeaky Records label in 2003. At that time she found herself exported to America as part of a "Best of British" initiative, organised, ironically, by the record industry trade organisation, the BPI, in conjunction with Virgin Records. Now working on her second Squeaky album, Agapios feels that many artists today are simply discovering how to make a virtue out of a necessity.
"Because the major labels want it all on a plate these days, new artists have been forced to go elsewhere and make their own arrangements. And they have found, because of the new technology, that it is actually relatively cheap to make an album. If you've got Pro-Tools and Logic software you can pretty much make an album in your bedroom. "
We've found this to be very true as well, you do need to spend money, but not burning buckets of cash like the majors do:
"You really don't have to spend that much money to do really cool things like videos and stuff," Wainwright says. "You need to be prepared to work your socks off and you need to be clever and you need to maybe meet some people who know more about certain things than you do, but no one needs to spend what major labels do on these kind of things. Everything within the industry is so overpriced. It's almost like it's become a self-sufficient, incestuous little village of labels and PRs and video makers and creative types who all have very comfortable lives because they're all in this big conspiracy to bleed money off any people who are from outside of the village. We've met bands signed to majors who spent £10,000 on one publicity photo, or another whose label sent them to make a video in Iceland at a cost of nearly £100,000, and all those things you can do for yourself for practically no money."