The Best…

I recently read a poll of the ‘best’ record label of the century or some b.s. Atlantic came in #1 and Blue Note, Columbia, Warner Brothers, Stax-Volt respectively. Not a bad list and I don’t particularly have a problem with the overall premise of the poll, it’s all about positioning. I do question our need to pit things against each other. If you are not your biggest competition you’ve already lost.

Why is there such a dramatically one-sided antagonistic relationship between Indies and Majors? One-sided because the majors aren’t particularly concerned about you, other than you occasionally bad mouth their business practices. I totally get it, there are bad deals and old terms and blah blah blah. If that’s your problem you need better representation.

I’m not indemnifying the Majors in any way, but we all have to accept that the responsibility for the current state of the music business is on those who are in it, not those who YOU think ‘run’ it. What happened to being a student of life, learning from the mistakes of those who walked before you. The deals change, the business evolves, and we all have to adapt. We all have to become better partners.

This brings me back to the article and poll. Obviously, life has its winners and losers but I’m not sure you could say any label on this list is a loser. We’ve become so competitive that we bring competition into situations that it doesn’t even apply. Are you telling me that one is to pick a ‘label of the century’ between smaller boutique Indies and majors, including the majors that no longer exist? I could make a very valid argument that what has been done over the last 10 years barely even counts.

This business of music is not for everyone. I work with folks that have sacrificed and risked it all to take their shot. The idea that the imbalance is because of the size of the majors is just ignorance. How many start-ups have started in a garage and gone on to impact, influence, or even change the way we do business. The rules of business still apply and if you build something on sound business fundamentals you can take it as far as you can scale it. Even in the music business.