Music Labels

Unconsultancy? The prefix “un” means that something is “not” or the “opposite of”. So unconsultancy means it’s “not” or the “opposite of” consultancy. However, exploring new practices that are gaining popularity such as unconferences and unconventions, the prefix “un” is used in a different sense. With unconferences, unconventions and unconsultancy they still follow the traditional sense of being what they are, however, the way these new practices are being held is what makes them uncommon. The usual way these practices would be held would be a person or persons would attend a meeting or an event to hear a lecturer or a professional speak to them about a given topic. This would be called a monologue. With the “un” crowd, the meeting or event would be more of a dialogue where everyone would engage in conversation. The person who created the concept and coined the term “unconsultancy” is Andrew Dubber, an online music consultant, co-author of the blog Music Think Tank and author of the blog New Music Strategies.  He took the “un” idea along with the couch surfing concept and created the niche. How does this work? Well, you, the musician, would call Andrew to setup an engagement in your town. Instead of booking a hotel for Andrew or Andrew booking a hotel for himself, you would provide the room and board at your place of residence. There, he would provide his services to you personally or to a group of people that you invited. This idea makes for a better turnout because Andrew can give you more sound advice because he gets a chance to know you personally in person. This idea also cuts down on the expenses involved if things were setup the old fashion way. Taking it a step further, this would be a great idea for music labels – people providing a service to the music community, to explore the world at a cheaper rate and give musicians their services. In return, musicians would get more value and sessions tailored specifically for you and your crowd. During “The Great Recession”, saving money by working together and embracing the barter system will help us to explore new possibilities and evolve.


The Music Label
The Challenge
The Downsides of Streaming Services
“The bottom line is labels need more revenue than less, and pushing consumers toward lower-revenue models may harm the record industry's chances for a soft landing.” - Glen

In part two of this essay, I mentioned reporting a 119% increase in CD and digital sales due to streaming services such as Once again, anti-piracy combatants are placing blame on music fans for the decline of record sales. Looking past Felix Oberholzer-Gee’s and Koleman Strumpf’s research on how illegal downloading don’t affect CD sales, let us analyze the film and gaming industry. There’s no discriminating when it comes to illegal downloading and file sharing. Anything from ebooks, audio books, movies, games and computer applications can be downloaded and shared on the internet. With the film and gaming industry, even though they are heavily affected by file sharing their profits are still soaring. Why? First and foremost, they allow the consumers to preview before they purchase. Can you rent music at Blockbuster or Netflix? Secondly, they continue to add value to the experience they are providing. If the film industry followed the same route as the record industry, we would still purchase movies on VHS. If the gaming industry followed the same route as the record industry, we would still purchase Nintendo cartridges. My question to the record industry; what is wrong with allowing the fans to listen before they purchase? Are you afraid that they will realize that the quality of music has declined significantly as you claim sales have? I think they’ve already come to that realization. And I can attest to that as a die hard music fan.

The Opportunity
Why the Labels Love Play Anywhere

“The new service puts personal music and video collections onto the “cloud” and enables subscribers access and play across multiple devices including mobile, PC and in-car regardless of DRM and formats.” – Hypbot Site

As Gerd Leonhard, author and media futurist, would say, “Music Like Water is the new ecosystem”.  Water flows freely any and everywhere. You can turn on your faucet and receive water or you can purchase water from the store. Will music ever be as free as water, with the option of purchasing sound in a concealed package? Well, the question holds true because illegal downloads would be considered free music and sound in a concealed package would be considered a music CD. Gerd has been talking about a subscription based model for music since 2004, where ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) would add a small fee to your internet bill for unlimited access to music. Although this may take some time to bring into fruition, we’re beginning to see the beginning stages of this music utopia. Play Anywhere is a subscription based service, who supply their service to device manufacturers, telecoms companies and ISPs who can then offer it to their user base either as part of their package or as an extra. Their system is setup to where any song you listen to, whether purchased from iTunes, ripped from a CD, or downloaded from an illegal BitTorent site, will be tracked – even if you’re offline. This information will be tracked by their system to determine how much money would be distributed to the right’s holders. The only concern that music fans may have with this model is their privacy. 


The Music Label
The Challenge
Universal and Sony Reject Virgin Media’s Plan for Legal P2P

“The concerns of record labels, publishers and licensing societies, as well as, a myriad of contractual and legal obligations deeply entrenched in the industry will all have to shift dramatically before ISP licensed P2P becomes a reality.” - Hypebot

The monetization and control of music seems to be the only thing on the minds of record labels, publishers and licensing societies. It’s been well over a decade since Napster first appeared on the scene and caused an uproar in the music industry due to the new approach of owning music without paying. Anti-piracy campaigns, lawsuits and shakedowns have ensued with the record labels still scratching their head as to why their strategies aren’t working to end P2P file sharing. Virgin Media’s plan, similar to Nokia’s “Comes With Music” plan, was rejected by two majors, Sony and Universal because they feel would be loosing control if music uploads and downloads are unprovisioned.

The Opportunity
DRM-Free Music Sneaks onto iTunes from Major Labels

“It'd be nice if labels would stop trying to use DRM as a bargaining chip to try to force Steve Jobs budge on song pricing, album bundling and other issues; that way, all of the music in the iTunes store would be available in the unprotected AAC format, causing fewer consumer headaches and widening the hardware compatibility of iTunes-purchased music.” – Eliot Van Buskirk

What is DRM? Digital Rights Management. It is a range of access control technologies used by publishers, copyright holders, and hardware manufacturers to limit or restrict usage of digital media or devices. In my lifetime, I’ve downloaded only one song from iTunes. I paid the 0.99 for the purchase. However, when I tried to put the song, “Sean” by Aya, onto my MP3 player, Rhapsody didn’t recognize the file to add to my library. This scenario is all to familiar to the music fans who’ve ever downloaded songs from iTunes. However, with the ever increasing pressure on the record labels to allow music fans to stream music freely without restrictions seems to be coming to be coming to an end. The four major labels, EMI, Sony/BMG, UMG & WMG are finally beginning to release DRM-free music to the iTunes store.


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