The following is a reprint of a recent Slashdot post I made in response to a debate on the music industry. I have shamlessly done so due to a lack of focus on this blog. I apologize and will be more attentive in the future.
'Record Companies' are gone, along with 'records'. The magazines are history as well. Expect to see them disappear soon. 'Radio' will evaporate as well. As for promotion, that has already been moved from the old labels to the new kings -> concert promoters. Doubt it? Check and see who has signed to Live Nation recently.
Bands will be less inclined to care about record sales, than say the proceeds from tours and merch. Why? There are twice as many people in the world than when the Eagles recorded on vinyl. The gate and licensing will be all that matters. You'll merely have to fill the seats and bags of t-shirts et al. to rake in the $$$. Oh, and the bands dearly care about the money. Make no mistake about that. Ask U2 (moralists one and all), who has one company who has to pay the other (both owned by U2), to keep more of the loot.
This debate has lacked the element of distinguishing the phases of 'recorded music'. Wax cylinders, vinyl, tape, digital files stored on a disc. Each era has brought us closer to the day when music is no longer physically owned, stored on shelves, and fought over. This is why we have taken the technology to this level. Many other things that have traditionally been purchased in a store will no longer be practical to place in boxes and attics. Accept the new era, you have driven it!
BTW, artists have been getting duped by everyone (including themselves), not just the record companies over the years. It's not so much WHO makes the $$$. If that was the case, musicians would go to school before starting bands, and learn read contracts as well as music. Case in point, Grand Funk Railroad, one of the biggest bands of the late sixties. They fired their manager three weeks before his contract ran out. A clause in the contract stated he kept all the music rights if he was fired. There are many similar stories.
Pholks, we are in a new era. Wake up. You want the outlaw 'X', fine, crank up the generators and join the UFO misfit broadcasting in the desert.