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In My Room » Blog Archive » Thinking about the music business

Thinking about the music business

Wednesday, February 4th, 2004 @ 2:52 am | Uncategorized

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So I’m taking a class this semester called “Survey of the Recording Industry.” (I’m a recording industry major at Mid Tenn State) The mechanics of how the recording industry works has been a topic of interest to me for several years, and there are many fine books available on the subject.

Most people really don’t know what the major label record industry is like. If you thought the RIAA suing file sharers was nasty, read on…

Many people think that major label artists make lots of money, and for many aspiring musicians, getting a major label deal is a sign that they’ve made it. Fact is, the vast majority of major label bands fail, and never make it to their third album. Only a small percentage of albums sell enough for the artist to make money (although the record company makes hundreds of thousands in profits the whole while).

Sure, those bands that sell millions of albums and reach the top of the charts are making money (and usually from a variety of sources aside from record sales). But less than 5% of the thousands of albums released by the major labels ever reach these kind of sales figures. Many popular artists remain in debt to their record labels, even after a moderately successful album.

This oft-reprinted article from producer Steve Albini (Nirvana, dozens of indie bands) provides some figures to show exactly how it all works: major labels: the problem with music

And Courtney Love goes a little further in depth in this speech she made in 2000.

Yes, the RIAA is right. Money is being stolen from the artists. But the thieves aren’t the file sharers, it’s the labels themselves. Considering that they’ve been treating their artists this way for years, it’s no surprise that they’re treating their customers as badly.

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