record labels…

Last Monday, Nine Inch Nails announced that they are no longer under contract with a record label, and intend to sell their music directly to the public.

Yesterday, Radiohead released its latest album online allowing the buyer to decide how much she wants to pay for it, and without DRM. There’s also a ‘discbox’ version which is a physical release with a fixed price (GBP 40) that comes with all sorts of extras. Radiohead’s contract with EMI expired in 2004.

This move was very well received – the album shot to the top of the digital download charts, and Oasis and Jamiroquai have announced that they intend to follow in Radiohead’s footsteps.

Meanwhile Yahoo Music’s Ian Rogers posted a presentation titled “Convenience Wins, Hubris Loses and Content vs. Context, a Presentation for Some Music Industry Friends”, which basically says that Yahoo Music will not accept any further ridiculous DRM requirements from the labels.

And today the news breaks that Madonna is dumping the major labels. She’s not going to sell her records direct, but she signed a deal with a concert promotion firm.

EMI and Universal have already started dropping DRM. Can Warner and Sony/BMG be very far behind, or are they going to go the way of the dodo? Judging by the recent comments by Sony/BMG’s chief antipiracy lawyer that copying cds you already own is stealing, and Warner’s Edgar J. Bronfman’s widely reported refusal to drop DRM, I wouldn’t hold my breath. These people seem to live in an alternate universe.

The beginning of the end, finally, for record labels? I certainly would not mind. It’s been almost 10 years now that the labels have had their head in the sand – seems to me they’ve had more than enough time to change their ways. Move over, record labels, you’re finished. If you don’t adapt, you go extinct.

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