Can Curating Save the Labels?

Short answer: I don’t think so.

However, over on TechDirt there are some comments on Ian Rogers (former GM of Yahoo Music) open letter to EMI in which he talks of a new(ish) idea:

“affinity labels. Put together various mini-labels under which similar types of bands are associated. And, include on those labels a few of the “big name” EMI artists. Thus, for all the fans who are fans of some huge artist, by creating these affinity labels, it will help drive the fans of the big name artist to those other bands as well, knowing that they all have a similar sound or musical philosophy.”

I might be crazy but this sounds a lot like every indie label out there except with the idea of using big bands to attract fans to smaller bands.  Every indie label that’s any good is good because of its taste and fans of a label trust each new band the label releases will be worth listening to.

Applying this basic concept to the major labels – basically turning them into a bunch of mini-labels – is something the big film studios have tried to do over the past decade or two.  They formed little “indie” studios within their bigger frameworks to distribute smaller films.

Now, these same studios are discovering that smaller films simply make less money and they are shutting down their “indie” wings left and right (Warner Independent and PictureHouse are recent examples) to focus on big-budget blockbusters.

I don’t see how it will work any better for the labels.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Can Curating Save the Labels?

  1. I advocated for labels dividing into indie like teams with a common back office to serve the niches a couple weeks ago as part of an ongoing Can The Music Industry Save Itself? on Hypebot.com. (Here’s the article: http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2008/05/can-the-music-1.html#more)

    Why don’t they do it? Fear of change. They’ve been chasing mega-hits for so long; they can’t admit that day is over. After all one hit pays for many misses. And if they go for this plan then it means sweeping the rest of their old school buddies out the door. I don’t think they’ll need an “I Know How To Buy A Hit” label team.

    But the idea could lead to the creation of some new major label groups created from the bottom up. For example, ATO – who just bought back their independence from Sony BMG for $5M and says it wants to form a “legacy” indie have the cash an the smarts to do it.

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