15 Sep 2007, 05:04

Bring back my Tom Waits!

Bleh, just found out that Epitaph Records left eMusic. That’s a major disappointment, especially since I’d been planning on picking up some Tom Waits this evening. Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come with other labels as well. It’s interesting to note from that article that apparently eMusic subscribers buy 20 times more music than iTunes customers. You’d think that would be attractive to labels but it seems like everyone is convinced that 99 cents/track is the only reasonable price for digital music. Rubbish.


Comment by Neal on 2007-09-15 14:26:43 +0000

In addition to being my primary source for music, I consider eMusic to be my vote for lower music prices and less DRM. I’ve never bought a track off of iTunes and I rarely buy CDs.

Consumers will pay what they’re willing to pay, and I think that high-cost music is on a steady decline. In addition to competing against low-cost music (eMusic) and free music (pirated and legally free), high-cost music companies are competing against talk radio, podcasts and audiobooks.

The crux of the problem for labels like Epitaph is that they are just middlemen that the system can no longer support. Artists need to break away from big labels as soon as possible.

Comment by Will on 2007-09-15 22:54:51 +0000

I’m not sure if I think there’s no room for labels in the future, but it’s definitely a reduced role. The reason I can’t see the disappearing entirely is that while the internet has certainly shortened the distribution chain and brought artists into the position to directly distribute their work, the fact is there’s still some work to be done there and it’s effort that artists could instead be applying to creativity. But yeah, labels need to get a lot smaller, and fast. Also for nostalgic reasons, a label like Epitaph may be pretty big for a minor (a major minor?) but to me they still feel like they have personality and they also happen to represent more than a few quality artists.

While high cost music is probably on the way out in the long term, I think it’s still going to be a while before it all shakes out. Content distributors in all forms of media still seem to be vastly overestimating the worth of individual items ($1.99 for a single TV episode? $0.99 extra for a 30 second ringtone of a song I already own. Seriously?) Unfortunately, for now it seems that enough people are paying what they’re asking.