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Record Labels As Furniture Stores

If you'd like to think about the music industry and record labels in a different way, watch this video from 1993, during the height of the 'CD Boom' where profit margins were excessive, and the music industry was bloated with high revenues, frivolous spending and an arrogance that could have ultimately contributed to the massive losses that are still occurring today.

Twenty years ago, before the time of digital distribution, smart phones, and access for all artists to put their music on platforms such as iTunes and hundreds of other online stores, before low returns from streaming services were an issue, a time when major labels dominated limited shelf space in record stores. The internet was not widely used in homes or offices, and access to new music and fragmented markets was limited, actual effort had to be made to choose and select a scene and product that was in any way underground.

This was also however, a time when music was paid for and profit margins were higher. An album would be $30 and it was accepted that this is what you paid. You couldn't listen to whatever you wanted on demand, instead we sat poised over our tape players with our finger ready to record any decent tracks that the radio DJ decided to play. Music was not as accessible, not as instantaneous, not at all free.

The speakers on the video, particularly Phil Alvin, outline how record labels started as furniture companies. Music was not a priority, furniture sales were, and this has completely dictated how the music industry was initially set up, and how it has progressed. It turns upside down the notion that labels are concerned with music and creativity and art, and drives home the point that the music industry is basically like any other commodity industry such as the furniture industry. The music exists solely to sell more commodities - firstly phonographs, then record players, tape players and boomboxes, CD players and stereo systems, ipods and mp3 players and now smartphones.

How do you, as an artist feel about this, 20 years later in 2013?

Do you feel empowered by the more even playing field, or do you feel that it's harder than ever to create, market and sell your music?

Companies like Ditto exists to empower and enable independent bands, but there's no doubt that bands must now contend with a flooded market, and be smarter, better at promoting themselves, harder working, stronger, and more adaptable.

Independent artists are often the most driven, intelligent and hard-working people out there, as they work extra long hours to support their creativity, and contend with an industry that changes daily.

With this blog post we want to know how you, as an independent artist feel about the music industry around you.

What do you want more of? What would you like to see happen? How can we as a company help you to achieve this?

Comment below, tweet us, tell us on facebook.

The music industry is an entirely different beast from the time this video was made, and it will continue to change rapidly as technology changes, and these technology changes affect consumption of music, consumption of the 'furniture' or hardware (and software) that we use to consume music.

You, as the artist, have power. Tell us what you need.

Ditto Music