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The end of the music business as we know it

This is not really directly related to anything Purple, but we never said that this blog would be. 😉

A must-read article on wired.com: David Byrne talks about the state of music business. Personally, I don’t care much for his music, it’s not my cup of tea. But I care for the state of music business because I care for music in general. David is a smart guy and he’s been around the block in this business a couple of times. And when he has to say something, it’s good to listen.

What is called the music business today, however, is not the business of producing music. At some point it became the business of selling CDs in plastic cases, and that business will soon be over. But that’s not bad news for music, and it’s certainly not bad news for musicians. Indeed, with all the ways to reach an audience, there have never been more opportunities for artists.

The fact that Radiohead debuted its latest album online and Madonna defected from Warner Bros. to Live Nation, a concert promoter, is held to signal the end of the music business as we know it. Actually, these are just two examples of how musicians are increasingly able to work outside of the traditional label relationship. There is no one single way of doing business these days. There are, in fact, six viable models by my count. That variety is good for artists; it gives them more ways to get paid and make a living. And it’s good for audiences, too, who will have more — and more interesting — music to listen to. Let’s step back and get some perspective.

Read more about it in the David Byrne’s Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and Megastars.

48 Comments to “The end of the music business as we know it”:

  1. 1
    podzilla says:

    Wise words

  2. 2
    69 says:

    I like David. And while his solo work is of varying quality, his work with the Talking Heads belongs to the most original and innovative in music after 1976. And a smart guy he´s too, always interesting what he´s got to say, but certainly far from being alone in his opinion. I don´t think there´s many in the buisiness who´d disagree with that. I still like my CDs though.

  3. 3
    paul anderson says:

    well not a fan of his music, but respect what he has done though, here is someone that still has the passion for the music he writes and performs along with the passion of keeping music alive.
    Thinking out the box is crucial to the surviving of changes. Radiohead made a bold move, Modonna has as well. Why not more. Even at grass routes levels. At present the place is saturated with cover and tribute bands, though I participate in one as well, but i am so dissapointed that venues wont have original bands in.
    Cover bands all seem to be playing the same songs as each other.
    The public needs to support the move to get more bands back up there and playing as well.
    Off at a tangent i know.

  4. 4
    Stefan says:

    Detest his music…….but respect his views….clever fella !!!!!

  5. 5
    purplepriest1965 says:

    http://www.zakkorama.blogspot. com

    A good site for widening one’s MUSICAL JOURNEY’s and authored by someone who led a RAINBOW fanclub way back.

    One of the positive sides of the developments is and was that it’s more easy to become familiair with other music.

    The downside is that I do feel a certain LOSS Because I love VINYL and only just accepted CD’s

    Caressing the sleeves and smelling that scent. VINYL.

    Yesterday I received the “LIVE IN LONDON” Vinyl by Deep Purple from DPAS .
    Hello Simon………

    Putting it away fondly in some protectionsleeve and on a shelve. Mmmhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    I never got in to music by Talking Heads and his frontman.
    It never seduced me.
    Although I felt a bit restless when Roger Glover said that he loved them.
    Should I ?
    Do I miss something?

    Well, you cannot force yourself in to everything.

    That’s called FREEDOM.

  6. 6
    mike whiteley says:

    I’ve read a couple of articles that predict the CD will become obsolete in 2008,just 26 years after it’s invention.

  7. 7
    Seven-47 says:

    I hope this doesn’t mean the demise of the CD. I have over 2000, and really enjoy collecting them, as I did my vinyl albums. It cost me a small fourtune to replace all of my vinyl!

  8. 8
    purplepriest1965 says:

    We SHOULD learn from this!

    Since 1987 I stumbled into that trap as well : Replacing stuff and so on.

    But we all know what happened :
    Buying INFERIOR stuff at relative high prices from the start of the CD era.
    After that becoming FRUSTRATED because they finally(….)released IMPROVED and SUPERIOR stuff, very often at lower prices as well.
    And how many re releases of a certain product do you want to shelve?!

    Not me, hey!!!!

    I’t should be about the MUSIC!!!!
    Not the carrier…………
    So, I m trying to be wise from now on(Hello Glenn)and will avoid as much as possible the clever tricks of the market.

    They should NOT complain, it’s their own fault.

    It’s areal pity tickets for gigs have become very expensive now.
    Justification is, as I read, compensation for loss in CD earnings because people buy less and burn more…………

    Well, what shall I say………….


  9. 9
    T says:

    Some of you may recall that I suggested the possibility of the next Purple album being a download-only release, and while that is just a suggestion at this point, it does relate to the discussion here.

    Companies are out to make money. They forced rap onto us in the American market, trying to create a trend that was very successful for the most part. The young kids here ate it up, and rock died. Fortunately, rap and hip-hop seems to be finally on their way out.

    Like many of you, I prefer to hold something tangible in my hands, such as a vinyl LP, a CD, or a tape. But I see another quick change. For me, the demise of vinyl was overnight. I walked into a “record store” to find there were no records. I had to buy a CD player.

    Recently, I went to check out the boxed set of ’76 Rainbow performances to find that they were available as downloads–very cheap. As I anticipated years ago, the time will come when ALL music will be downloaded.

    I just hope that things such as booklets and cover art–almost as much a part of an “album” package as the music is, as I see the entire product as an artistic medium–will not go the way of the dinosaur. I do imagine that the “single” will come back in a big way, as the kids are more interested in a single song compared to the concept of an album as a collection of songs.

    On the up side, the lack of packaging is good for the environment. If the reduced price holds (and the companies won’t get greedy–yeah, right) due to that lack of packaging, music–even the rare stuff that we all tend to be into–will be much more easily accessible. In addition, amateur artists like myself who would never get a recording contract can be seen and heard on a grass roots level. Anyone could record and promote their own music. (You can see some snippets of my work on YouTube. Just search StratomasterT .)

    The big companies, however, will retaliate and eventually make it impossible for people to do that.

    But I will lament the demise of the physical aspect of the “LP record” album (I still call an album an “album”–not a CD–since an “album” is a collection of songs intended to go collectively together that usually illustrates an artists frame of mind at the time–regardless of the format). The things we put up on our shelves will disappear in favor of a formless computer file.

    The CD will die…because the all-digital format would lead to people burning their own collections, trading, lending, and borrowing on a scale much larger than with just CDs due to the “abstract” nature of the MP3-style medium, already in an easily-tradeable format. Seen many blank high-bias cassette tapes on the shelves lately?

    I foresee something on a chip–a memory card–that contains all the music, liner notes, pictures, and associated production videos and live versions. Perhaps this would all be downloadable onto a computer instead of a chip. It does have the potential to put out a lot more product in a smaller package. I just hope the PRICE does not explode as you know it could.

    Little chips just won’t look as nice lined up on a shelf, but they’d be better than just lists of songs on a computer or MP3 player.

  10. 10
    stoffer says:

    Download only is coming , like it or not

  11. 11
    Nick Soveiko says:

    T wrote:

    The big companies, however, will retaliate and eventually make it impossible for people to do that.

    i don’t think they will succeed. not in music business, anyway. the big four tried to push DRM down our throats, but they failed. EMI, Warner and now Sony/BMG have all announced they are abandoning DRM. not sure about Universal though.

    but what David writes about is that now artists have much more choices. because the usual scheme of selling your music lock, stock and barrel to the labels is quickly fading as the only option.

    true, we’ll see a lot more music that comes without any physical medium and without any artwork. but (at least for a while) CDs will still be sold, albeit (eventually) on a niche market. and there always will be bands that care about the whole package — artwork, liner notes, etc. so they will keep producing it even in electronic form.

  12. 12
    purplepriest1965 says:

    It’s OFFICIAL :

    I m mourning

    I m getting OLD

    Goodnight to ya all…………

    I ll be looking for “my street of dreams”…………….

  13. 13
    deep lavender says:

    Hey “T”…
    Great show with Gillan!! Excellent solo on SOTW! How cool that must’ve been!

  14. 14
    scott says:

    very sad… i prefer an ‘album’ (cd,lp, etc.) that i can hold in my hands, read liner notes etc. while listening to it. i do not want to fire up the computer to read lyrics etc. i want it in front of me be it in the car, or at home, together as one package… disc and inlay.

  15. 15
    Stefan says:

    I hope the CD and vinyl format never become entirely extinct, I have tons of both formats! The computer geeks can say what they want….an MP 3 file can never replace the feeling of holding a new album in your hands, may it be Cd or vinyl…The sheer joy of studying the cover,liner notes etc. etc. of ones favorite group ( DP,GH,Whitesnake and others ) is undescribeable!!
    Those of you who are old enough to remember the `70s, know what I´m talking about…..!! If I can´t hold the product in my hands….well….It just doesn´t matter anymore!!!!!

  16. 16
    Russ says:

    In 15 years we will be saying to our grandchildren “I remember when the music I owned existed physically”

  17. 17
    Russ says:

    I don’t want to see CDs go away either. MP3s suck in quality. I don’t care what anyone says. The numbers speak for themselves. About 90% of the data is thrown away.

    So a regular 15 track album in MP3 format should cost no more than $1.50 since you really don’t get all of the recording.

  18. 18
    T says:

    deep lavender: Thank you. It was a very improbable dream come true for me and I have some stories, too. I think you might enjoy a solo by clicking on the “T” above.

    Nick: I agree with you that the recording industry may not be able to prevent anything in the SHORT term. What I meant to say was that it is now possible for an amateur to make an entire product from start to finish using a computer and the digital medium. No agents and no record companies. If the companies are to survive–if they are to attract new clients and retain them–they will have to do something to save their own industry.

    It’s almost as if we have come full circle. New artists used to be able to send a demo in and if it was good, they would get signed and make records. Then it became very difficult without a lot of connections. Recording companies became very selective, “manufactured” trends and groups, and pretty much controlled what was a “hit”. Now, we will soon see independent people having their own “hits” on YouTube or via downloads.

    The next few years will be very interesting. How will Deep Purple react in this kind of market?

  19. 19
    Seven-47 says:

    BRAVO T!; That was the day before I saw him in Minnesota. VERY COOL!
    Isn’t Ian a nice guy/

  20. 20
    T says:

    Ian is a VERY nice guy… I’ll have to write up a review or something. He did an excellent performance and I think he was ill at the time with a cold.

  21. 21
    deep lavender says:

    I agree with Stefan. Nothing compares to the actual album, be it CD or vinyl.
    I recently purchased a device that acts as a vinyl album player and converts the music to mp3 format, so I can play my vinyl music (much of which is not available on CD or mp3) on my computer. I still enjoy hearing that vinyl-crackling noise coming through my speakers….
    I know the hi-tech audiophiles hate that noise, but I love it.

  22. 22
    deep lavender says:

    Cool solo “T”!!! The blues riff + “tinny” sound make it sound very similar to Johnny Winter’s style…..

  23. 23
    Stefan says:

    SMOKIN´ “T” !!!!! Well done!!!!!

  24. 24
    Scratchplate1 says:

    The demise of the major record comapny is potentially good news for the “established bands” As Gillan often stated Moronica (the music business) has no intertest at all in the artist…Just how much money it can make!

    What about the up-and-coming talent however? How are they going to be able to afford to record, poduce, promote etc. there own music? This catually costs lots of money and most aspiring artists still live on the bread line! They also have very little idea of how to market there music other than through gigs!!

    I’m playing devils advacate here…But I stll think it’s easy for established artists like David Byrne to say that CD’s and record companies will be redundant soon… My concern is for the future “New Purple’s” And the music lovers out there!

  25. 25
    AndreA says:

    Always in my life I’ve bought CD (Lp..),I hate mp3,downloads. If I really love a band I go to the shop for buyng,it is my respect for the bands…computer sucks,I love the original package (sigh! Here in Italy the new LIVE IN LONDON Mk.III has not come!). I love,I give!
    cheers my friends

  26. 26
    AndreA says:

    …I’ve forgotten to say I don’t like the new selling way like Radiohead does. it isc a poor thing,cold and I find that it is the way for closing real cool shop where I like to go for seeing and buying record. radiohead open a bad way to workoff. I never like Radiohead music,from now I completely “hate” them….(I hope you understand my bad english :-> )

  27. 27
    Rascal says:

    Nothing quite like the sound of vinyl

    I suppose in time CD media will be surpassed and replaced as technology races on, but the controlling factor will still be the greedy record companies and their profit margins.

    Long live the music pirates

  28. 28
    Nick Soveiko says:


    read the article. again, if necessary. 😉

    what he’s saying is that with affordable digital technology the costs of recording, distributing and promoting the music have plummeted. this is good news for the “new purple’s”. 20-30-40 years ago one simply couldn’t afford to record an album without signing a deal with record company and getting an advance first. now they can do it with less than $1000 worth of recording equipment.

    a new band couldn’t afford pressing thousands LPs or CDs and put them into hundreds of stores. now they can sell music through their own website, which costs a hundred bucks per month to operate.

    a new band couldn’t afford to shoot a music video and get it on TV. now they have myspace and youtube to promote them. at zero cost.

    this all had to be done with the record company’s money, which money had to be repaid back leaving many even successful musicians in bankruptcy. now it can be done with money from a summer job.

    now they can do either everything on their own — recording, distributing, promoting, at very little cost. or outsource parts of it to the already springing cottage industry. selling your music to the label ceased to be the only option. beggars are becoming choosers. this is good news for the upcoming bands.

  29. 29
    T says:

    Exactly. To be 18 again!

    There are also websites that will allow your music to be downloaded without the necessity of running your own website.

    High school garage bands can put together songs, videos and artwork at minimal cost. The “underground” will be a whole new industry.

    With Purple’s ready-made audience, they don’t *need* a record company. This could have the net benefit of extending the life of the band should the traditional companies choose not to award a contract because they are “too old” or too far outside of “today’s” trends.

  30. 30
    David Sanderson says:

    Music will go the way of sport before long, I know we have to move with the times but the number of people aged say 12 to 18 who wear premier league shirts and call themselves ‘fans’ yet have never actually seen a live game other than on TV astonishes me, just go into any pub showing live games and sadly armies of ‘armchair supporters’ aged 20 to 40 turn up, I might be deviating from the subject slightly but imagine a generation of music ‘fans’ that have never physically bought a new release from a shop, or that eventually can’t afford to go to concerts, to me it makes the whole thing sterile and impersonal, there may be some irony in that we are discussing this on an internet forum, no doubt all of us have downloaded music and bought tickets online at some point. The music industry moves with the times and these current trends can arguably be traced back to the advent of MTV and music video back in the 80’s, the writing was on the wall even back then.

  31. 31
    Scratchplate1 says:

    Hi Nick…thanks for your direct response!!

    I did re-read Davids synopsis and think it’s excellent, however it’s really more the marketing side of things that is difficult! Myspace,Youtube etc. are of course free, but there is an absolute quagmire of people now marketing themselves (because it’s free) and I’m worried that real talent will get lost in this “Quagmire…” For instance, we all know that Hard/Classic/Heavy rock is once again on the increase in terms of popularity; ROTD sold over 1m I hear, Zeppelin’s ticket was the hottest on the planet and all of the big Rock Festivals are growing in terms of numbers around the world…however, there are some fantastic “new” Hard rock bands marketing themselves this way to no avail. A major record company could potentially market these bands with real financial clout and specialised selling!

    Also, recording a song in your bedroom is not a good idea if you are trying to produce music with any power, passion and heart… How do you think “In Rock” would have sounded if it were recorded on Q-Base??

    You need a real studio with real drums and ambience to create that sound…trust me, i know from personal experience!



  32. 32
    Charris says:

    To Purplepriest
    Is it right that Riverside is a Polish band? Or I’m I wrong? It looks that they make very diverse music, heavy but also calm songs. Do you know perhaps some titles that you can recommend to try out ? Thanks!

  33. 33
    4 ECMT says:

    Hi Andrea
    We like the way you feel about it . We think just the same !

  34. 34
    Nick Soveiko says:

    Scratchplate1 wrote:

    there is an absolute quagmire of people now marketing themselves (because it’s free) and I’m worried that real talent will get lost in this “Quagmire…”

    it’s a distinct possibility, but real talent alone never was enough to get noticed. you always need a bit (or a lot) of luck on top of that.

    our own boys didn’t get on top of the world because of record company marketing. they did it because on endless touring. and this channel of promotion didn’t go away. smoke didn’t become #1 because of record company marketing, it became so because it was good and it spread through the word of mouth. hell, record company actually thought that never before would be a hit.

    A major record company could potentially market these bands with real financial clout and specialised selling!

    major record companies have been marketing (mostly) crap for a long, long time. and before internet, bands had nowhere else to go.

    You need a real studio with real drums and ambience to create that sound…trust me, i know from personal experience!

    …with a few red lights and a few old beds… need i continue? 😉

  35. 35
    Rascal says:

    And the Rolling stones Mobile……………………

  36. 36
    AndreA says:

    to 4 ECMT


    In’83when the DP announced the reunion for a new disc, inside me and my friends there was a huge spasmodic waiting for the new Lp …..I remember when here the local radio presented the new song,one for a day…what emotions! Unrepeatable! How can I immagine the same vibrations with this bussiness trend? no no no…when I went to shop for buynig PERFECT STRANGERS I felt like a lobotomized,my mind was obscured because I spent many mounths,many week to think I need this Lp in my hands,to see his cover,to see booklet… it is not the same dowloading from pc in my house…too cold!

  37. 37
    Seven-47 says:

    I agree AndreA; I enjoy the anticipation of e new release, and purchasing it the day of release. I love listening to the music, enjoying a few beers, and reading the booklet. As I replaced my vinyl, I framed the albums with the coolest art work. The Deep Purple albums that I framed and currently display are; “In Rock”, “Fireball”, “Burn”, “Stormbringer”, “Come Taste The Band”, “House Of Blue Light”, and “The Battle Rages On”.

  38. 38
    AndreA says:

    To Seven-47

    reat thing! In my house I’ve not enough space for framing..
    anyway I think that the last beatifull artwork is Perfect Strangers…sometime I think that DP makes no good artwork 🙂

    my favourite are

    come tast the band (very cool )
    in rock
    perfect stranger

    the worst (absolutely!)

    slaves and masters 8-o

  39. 39
    Seven-47 says:


    I agree with your opinion as far as art work, yet some of my favorite tracks come from those three releases. I know it’s the music that counts, but I’ve always been a sucker for a cool album cover!

  40. 40
    T says:

    I have a framed copy of “Stormbringer” up on the wall.

  41. 41
    purplepriest1965 says:

    Hi Charris

    I do recommend them all!
    Although some people were dissappointed maybe because they changed “a bit” after the first two albums.

    The first two are very mauch alike and are called :
    “Out of myself” and “Second life Syndrome”.

    The third, and final album of the so called, Trilogy, is called Rapid Eye Movement or REM.(Pick out the double disc digi pack, cause it contains extra great tracks and does not cost a lot money)

    Do not forget to look out for the EP “Voices in my head” with great non albumtracks : fine, subtle, moody, melancholy……..and less heavy than the albums.

    As yet there’s NO DVD available, unfortunately.

    They said they will do that later “Because we are not yet as good as we want to be…”(….)

    They are very good live, check them out.

    And yes, they are Polish.

    I first did not check them out at a progrockfestival because of that reason.
    Man, was I wrong!!!!

  42. 42
    scott says:

    so if audio will be download only , what about dvd’s (movies) ?! not just our beloved dp concert dvd’s,.. but ALL movies!? do we have to gather around our computers with our families to watch movies on sunday night??!! i hope not! maybe we will spend all our time burning downloads on our computer to put an obsolete disc into our dvd players so we can watch a movie with our families?!? sounds gay to me.

  43. 43
    AndreA says:

    I don’t download film too…I think the same thing. In my life only one thing I’ve download: Black Sabbath “Live In Worcester u.s.a. 4th november 1983” with a “evil” singer….

  44. 44
    Charris says:

    To Purplepriest
    You seem to be a real expert with so much information. I have to take the time to become familiar with this unknown music for me. I surely let you know my thoughts about it. (it can take a while).
    Thank you very much for the effort !

  45. 45
    T says:

    Scott has another good point regarding downloading a movie only to have to burn it onto an obsolete medium to play it in the living room.

    I do believe the hardware will change as well. With wireless technology, music and video could be sent throughout the house. I predict that the object would be downloaded to a computer which is connected to all terminals throughout the house: TVs, video players, other computers, and stereos. The music and video could be brought up in the living room via a remote and on-screen menus–or possibly even a sort of laptop-style keyboard.

    It could also be that the computer and media player will be one and the same.

    I am am educator. I see rapid changes in my field that are surely to spill over into the private sector.

    Even one of my students is in a band that has impressive songs available for download from their myspace page. I’m not sure how it was recorded, but it is very professional–very well made.

    In a short time, the technology has changed quickly, and the way we access and make music will continue to evolve. If this is good or bad is up to you to decide.

  46. 46
    David Sanderson says:

    Whether it is a good or bad thing is debateable and largely a matter of personal opinion, the fact is though that radical changes are inevitable, maybe we are a nostalgic bunch on here but surely part of the attraction of the classic Purple albums is that sound you remember when you first heard them on vinyl and the sound of a concert should be a completely unique event, maybe there will come a time when technology is such that the live version of a song is exactly the same as the original studio version whether it was recorded 40 years ago or from the latest album (in whatever format it may be in) and a concert is just like listening to a bands greatest hits.

  47. 47
    Davo says:

    The day they stop producing music on vinyl and/or cd’s is the day I stop paying for the music I listen to. The only incentive I have to actually go out and buy this music is the individual packaging, or perhaps an undying loyalty towards a particular band, which probably means Deep Purple is safe then, but not many others will be making money out of me.

  48. 48
    AndreA says:

    Right Davo,I’m agree with you…..

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