I was very interested in the Long Tail and its effect on big-box retailers, especially music stores. Chris Anderson’s article for Wired was especially interesting in that he foreshadowed on how record companies would be effected, as well. Soon after his article was written, and many record companies began downsizing and losing money because many of the artists tearing up the charts were either signed to small, indie labels, or were completely unsigned. With social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, and especially YouTube, bands could spread their music around faster than ever. I mean, there are big hits made STRICTLY because of them being posted on YouTube first. See Rebecca Black’s horrific “Friday” video, which became a sensation for being so bad (167 million views in 4 months), but that didn’t stop it from selling a million singles. This was a video her parents paid some guys to make for her as a gift to her.
While the big labels were down, they certainly weren’t out. They realized the potential of these indie labels, and began buying them up by the dozen. Fueled By Ramen, the label that broke bands like Fall Out Boy and Panic At The Disco, was bought out by Warner Music Group. The legendary punk label, Epitaph Records, was swallowed up by EMI. There’s a reason big labels survived so long, they are ruthless, and, like cockroaches, are extremely hard to exterminate. But at least they are limited in their grip on the music industry these days, and with it being so easy to leak songs on the internet now, their grip will continue to loosen.
Here’s a video from NOFX (from 2000), forshadowing the fall of the major labels. It’s one of my favorites and always brings a smile to my face: