This is the End for the Record Industry as We Know It: Good Riddance!

In 1949, a man by the name of Ahmet Ertegun, who was in charge of signing talent to Atlantic recordings, heard a song on a jukebox in a dive bar somewhere in New York City, called “Baby, let me hold your hand”. Ertegun flipped out at the sound of the man singing this incredible song, barely believing what his ears were hearing: the sound of one of the greatest soul singers in an extremely early recording of a song that nobody believed in except for Ahmet Ertegun. The name of the singer from that formidable song was Ray Charles, and Ertegun had to sign Charles to a five-year contract and lost countless hundreds of thousands of dollars and incur the wrath of his co-owners of Atlantic Records at the time, because the record never took off. He stuck by his man, though, and a few years later, after much blood sweat and tears from the constant and relentless work ethic of Ertegun to push Charles’ sales, Ray Charles went on to sell millions of future records for Atlantic, making the record label into a very profitable venture for all the owners, including Ahmet Ertegun. That same scenario will never happen again. blue heroin for sale

Since the huge success of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album, the record industry has always been looking for that next big quick “hit”. “Thriller” went on to become the biggest selling album of all time, with over 45 million records sold worldwide, but that success could not be duplicated during the following years, much to the chagrin of the record industry. The industry became almost like a junkie looking for it’s next heroin fix, a billion dollar monster always needing to fill it’s massive coffers with more money so it could go on and spend more on publicity for acts like “Milli Vanilli” and other non-musical commercial acts. The record industry became the giant money-hungry greedy industry that it’s been known forever since. All of the major record labels, including Atlantic records, took the new corporate mentality of having a musical act they signed either being a huge hit-maker from day one, or dropping them off their label like a hot potato.

No longer would a label nurture an artist like Columbia Records and A&R man John Hammond, in particular, did for a young Bruce Springsteen, who had to build his career slowly by putting out albums like “Greetings from Asbury Park” and “The Wild, the Innocent and the E-Street Shuffle” which had dismal record sales in 1972 and 1973. It would take almost ten years to get the huge hit that was “Born in the USA” on top of the charts, and Columbia was willing to sweat it out until that happened.

But today Bruce Springsteen, and classic rock bands like the “Eagles”, would have to sell an initial 500,000 copies or more of their debut cd’s, or they would get dropped from their contracts without due notice. That is the major tragedy with the record business today. That is the main reason why you constantly see the same record producers get involved in making newer artists like Fergie and Gwen Stefani sound virtually identical to each other. If Timbaland does a great job producing mega hits for Fergie, then it stands to reason he will do the same for Stefani or Christina Aguilera, in essence giving them the exact same sound that he did for Fergie. Put the traditional radio outlets in the mix, who play the same songs ad infinitum 24 hours a day, and you get the most repetitious and blandest songs coming out of the record industry in it’s 100 year history.

The record industry is now trying to blame the internet for all it’s woes because of all the illegal downloads going on today. That may be a major part of the problem, but the industry is trying to make it seem like that’s ALL the problem, which is an outright lie. Here are some very frightening sales statistics: Total January Album sales in 1997: 55 million. That number drops to 50 million in 2002, and plunges to 34 million total sales for January 2007. A drop of 20 million less sales for this year from just ten years ago can only mean another drop of at least 10 million for January 2008, if this downward slide continues.

Those sales drops represent the lowest sales in Soundscan history and the future looks ominous for even more record industry layoffs. EMI Records already merged Virgin Records with Capitol, retaining the Capitol name and leaving the Virgin organization to find work with Capitol Records, or having to find employment elsewhere. Chairman and CEO of EMI, Alain Levy and vice chairman David Munns were fired earlier this year for the 4.9 percent cd sales drop between January ’06 and January ’07. Look for more layoffs to occur at rival record companies like Warner and Sony records in the very near future because of such alarming sales drops such as the whopping 67 percent drop in overall album sales since 1997.

“The music industry is in free-fall”, states Adam Shore, head of Vice Records, which is, ironically enough, distributed through the once-great record label, Atlantic Records. “We’re having an existential crisis. We’re less sure than ever that people are going to buy our records”. Such is the state of an industry on the verge of economic collapse, and a great example of what happens when an industry feeds on itself to bring on it’s own self-destruction.

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