photo My Point Of View
Paul Stark
co-founder of Twin/Tone Records

July 2003

The future of all entertainment delivery and distribution is without physical media.

There are no CDs, no DVD's, no video tapes, and no game cartridges in the future. .. These will be items for collectors only.

Everything will be delivered, streamed or presented by means of digital delivery, similar, somewhat, to what we now use for cable/satellite TV or broadband Internet.

Twenty years from now you won't necessarily know where something you are enjoying is coming from... your point of view will be... it's just something you wanted, when you wanted it and where you wanted it... without having to question where, how or why...

This all being true... How do we get there from here?

For this diatribe I speak of the music business, but almost all of my points apply to the entire field of the entertainment industry... digital games, movies, broadcast television, etc.

First of all, some myths...

1. There will be no need for record companies in the future...


The few companies that are left at the end of this transition will find themselves stronger than ever... (we can argue about this as being good or bad) Record companies at all levels are primarily a bank and a marketing company. Remember the major changes to the industry deal with delivery, not getting people interested and knowing about an artist and/or a song.

2. The genie is out of the bottle, from now on (because of MP3s and file sharing) all music will be free...


Unfortunately, consumers aren't use to thinking in terms of copyright and ownership... they don't think much about who gets the money they pay (if they do, they think the artists always get screwed, and the companies get rich.) All they want is convenience... I have been saying for a long time now... when it is easier to get music legally than via the file sharing system, people will (and they will have no problem paying for it.)

All we are really talking about is ease of delivery and convenience...

3. The Major Labels are in trouble because of free downloads...


The problems with the major label system is that it has fallen in with many other American corporations... instead of a "long term - view" they now operate under a "how much can we make this quarter" business plan. No matter what anyone will tell you to the contrary, all major labels depended on developing catalog and reaping the benefits of sales (and repeated sales) from them. A record company always needed "hits" to keep the doors open, but the true value and profits are derived from its catalog. "Hits" often have nothing to do with quality... they have more to do with marketing, promotion, peer pressure and placement.

I would argue that all the focus on music for the past few years (because of free downloads) has helped save the labels from failing even faster.

Bottom line... The labels who continue to develop artists (and back catalog) will be around for a long time as long if they don't foolishly spend money during this transition period in order to satisfy the bean counters who need to show ever increasing quarterly profits.

4. In the future, because everyone can be their own label on the Internet, there will be no need for Major Labels...


If this were true, in the future there would be no need for managers, booking agents, publicists, marketers, etc.

The only thing that is changing is that the line drawn between the various elements of the business is blurring a little more than it has in the past... for example, we might find some management companies becoming the equivalent of a major label for their artists.

... to be continued...

I'm just finishing the the main diatribe... should be posted late September... check back...

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