Music Labels and Blogs in 2011

01/12/2011

Music Blog Labels

A friend recently asked me if I wanted to start a music label. I asked him if he was crazy. The conversation ended there. Today’s major labels like the British EMI are reminiscent of the 1997 film Titantic, as the boat sinks and Leonardo Di Capro hangs on to a wood plank before freezing to death, while his love Kate Winslett survives to tell his story. Hold on to dear life labels, the big ship you sailed is going down!

Kid Cudi : “50 Ways To Make A Record” DL

[audio: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/11598506/Kid%20Cudi%20-%20A%20Kid%20Named%20Cuedi%20-%2010%20-%20%2050%20Ways%20To%20Make%20A%20Record.mp3]

This is nothing new, and jabbing on about whether labels will exist is more obnoxious than a bunch of philosophers in a room discussing the value theories of life. Labels will exist simply because SOMEONE has to judge the value of new music. The longevity of the conglomerates four labels ( EMI, Warner Bros, Sony and Universal) is questionable. The many subdivisions like Geffen, Interscope, and Def Jam may once again need to be independent.

But when, and I emphasize WHEN, these major labels do dissolve, the smaller labels like Mexican Summer, WARP, or Stone Throws (*note* these labels established themselves as lasting niche oriented labels) naturally will become the de-facto new “big labels.” They will focus on a style or artistic niche: electronic, conscious hip hop, lo-fi rock, or chillwave indie. Labels will excel because fans will expect the label to continue to produce the same type and quality of music.

This isn’t anything new. Take Stone Throws which has become popular for consistently publishing interesting hip hop, funk and soul artists like Mayer Hawthorne, Aloe Blacc, Madlib and Dam Funk. Fans of Stone Throws expect that a new artist signed to the label will uphold their past standard.

“The romantic notion of following a blogger as they discover ‘randomly” new music for their audience, is blurred by bloggers like Lile who are not randomly discussing (or for that continually discussing) bands signed to their label.”

As publishing moves digital the biggest inhibitor, distribution, isn’t really an inhibitor anymore. Before the digital wave, indie labels were limited by the scale they could press and distribute, bested by the efficient and scale of the major labels. Now that this is no longer an inhibitor the door is wide open for anyone to be a music label. Right?

Some blogs like My Old Kentucky Blog (MOKB), a larger (100k+ page views per month) and older music blog run by Craig “Dodge” Lile, have created record labels. After several years blogging, establishing himself as authority voice in the music blogging community, Lile created Roaring Colonel Records. Many of the artists, such as We Are Hex, Lile will tout on MOKB. The romantic notion of following a blogger as they discover “randomly” new music for their audience, is blurred by bloggers like Lile who are not randomly discussing (or for that continually discussing) bands signed to their label. I have no qualms, nor is there anything dishonest with blogs distributing records as long as both entities are publicly affiliated.

Last week I discussed the future of music blogs given the changing demands of readers and tools for exposure. I concluded that blogging will diminish due to the excessive growth of blogs particularly within the last three years, the increased efficiency of access to downloadable content, and political uncertainty of copyright issues.

Paul Simon: “50 Ways To Leave A Lover” DL

[audio: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/11598506/PAUL%20SIMON%20-%2050%20ways%20to%20leave%20your%20lover.mp3]

My question now, will blogs continue to move towards becoming labels? Will smaller labels like Stone Throws affiliate themselves with particular blogs for publicity? Are blogs that have record labels different than music blogs that share music but don’t have labels?