33% Off

You know physical retail is on its last legs when Bruce Springsteen creates a special product for Wal-Mart.  It’s like there’s a flood and everyone has retreated to high ground.  In this case, the one location that seems able to sell physical product.  But it’s really more like a drought.  The consumer is no longer raining money.  And it’s even worse, there’s not enough food at Wal-Mart.  Bryan Adams’ album didn’t sell there.  Not everything moves in the big box store.  Not everything is moving period.

Pete Wentz is in every gossip blog known to man.  The tiny dork is now part of the Simpson family and just like with his sister-in-law Jessica, the public is losing interest.  Fall Out Boy’s "Folie A Deux" not only didn’t debut at number one, it fell into the chart at number 8, selling a whopping 110,000 fewer copies than last year’s effort.

As for Web-craziness, Soulja Boy’s album debuted at number 43, selling less than half of his previous effort, a measly 46,000 in total.  AND THIS IS CHRISTMAS WEEK!

Blame it on the economy.  Be my guest.  Bury your head in the sand.  But sales were off before it turned out the Wall Street masters of the universe were raping and pillaging our country, creating undervalued derivatives comprised of mortgages that people couldn’t pay.

Yes, they’re not going to buy CDs either, but they will still acquire music.  Digital files.  Albeit for free.

This is the end my friend.  This is the last hurrah.  And the record business does not employ enough people to warrant a government bailout.  Sure, GM has been mismanaged for even a longer period of time, but by digital standards, the record companies were exposed to the canary in the coal mine first.  But they’d listened to too many hard rock records to realize the chirping was gone, they only heard the tinnitus in their ears.

No one’s got any sympathy for the record companies.  Who are now in land grab mode, their 360 deals no different from kings hoarding the goods of peasants.  As for the acts…  Too many had lifestyles equivalent to the Wall Street players.  Consumers like supporting your music, they’re not so happy about financing your lavish lifestyle.

But musicians think they’re immune.  Very few remember the pre-Beatle days.  When stardom did not mean vast riches, diamond selling albums, private jet lifestyles. They just can’t believe they’re not entitled to wealth.  So, when record sales tanked, they just raised ticket prices, as if the public didn’t notice.  But it’s interesting, people only want to pay a lot to see the legendary, classic acts.  Or maybe the new ones once.  We’re not building any infrastructure.  We’re just throwing crap against the wall.  And now our cupboards are bare.  The audience has moved on.  They’d rather buy wiis.  They deliver more entertainment value.

Sales last week were off THIRTY THREE PERCENT from the equivalent week last year.  If you can find a silver lining in this fact, you probably believe Bernie Madoff is going to take it all back on Passover, saying he just wanted to play a practical joke on his investors.

The record companies, the publishers, they’ve made music free.  All in the name of saving it, of protecting its value.  Good work guys.  And now even your pension money is in jeopardy, you had to put those double digit millions somewhere.  You fucked it up really good.  You said people would rather listen on physical discs.  You thought music was best when it was ten tracks for almost twenty bucks.  You thought the iPod was overpriced and then demonized Apple for creating an online market to capture some digital sales money.  You deserve to lose your jobs.  Your companies should be turned over to twentysomethings who know how people truly acquire music these days.  You were building the equivalent of SUVs for years, but now the bottom has fallen out.  Because people don’t want overhyped product with very little lasting satisfaction at the center.

It’s a new day.  The future paradigm is how does one get people to listen to your tracks from the vast assembled multitude of music they pay very little for.  It’s a heyday for listeners, everything’s at their fingertips.  The labels could have monetized this acquisition, if only they’d owned up to reality.  But if you never used Napster, how could you realize how great it was?

You can’t sell CDs in defunct Circuit City stores.  You can’t sell them in the indie shops that have gone under.  Wal-Mart may move some product, but it’s taking fewer titles.  It’s like a game of musical chairs.  Sony’s happy AC/DC broke through, but nothing else has.  Time to change the game.  Time to stop running for the hills and to build a boat.  Time to realize the nineties are over.  Hell, MTV not only isn’t airing any music, its numbers are tanking and it’s banking on reality shows.  They missed the Internet too.  Stop looking at your old partners and start dealing with reality.

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  1. Pingback by The Case for Change, Continued | B Frank | 2008/12/27 at 00:21:25

    […] – Music, the business of. According to Bob Lefsetz, the music industry has been “the canary in the coal mine,” even before the auto […]

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  1. Pingback by The Case for Change, Continued | B Frank | 2008/12/27 at 00:21:25

    […] – Music, the business of. According to Bob Lefsetz, the music industry has been “the canary in the coal mine,” even before the auto […]

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