There was one last point that I didn't get to address yesterday and that was this lingering theory on the part of the blogosphere that the Record Labels are close to extinction. That isn't likely to happen and I'm going to tell you why.
In reading this keep in mind that from High School on I grew up in Southern California and I grew up with a parent who acted in live theatre which eventually got me into the tech part of live theatre. I grew up doing productions and have more than 75 different musical productions to my credit so I know more than my fair share of actors and musicians.
Also, the characterizations below are generalizations and I know they don't apply to every single person in each category. That doesn't change the fact that they apply to the great majority of each group and because of that fact they are helpful in addressing the issue at hand.
All that said, lets start by looking at bloggers.
Bloggers like to think the world is filled with people just like them but the fact is that its not. In this particular topic that is relevant because bloggers by definition are at least mildly entrepreneurial. Even if they don't run a company themselves the sheer act of putting up a web site suggests the presence of the entrepreneurial spirit.
The polar opposite of bloggers are artists who aren't at all entrepreneurial. They want to focus on their art and they don't want to worry about marketing their art or packaging their art or any of the trappings of selling their art. Their ideal world is one where they can spend all their time on the art and just have a pay check show up at the end of the day.
This is why bloggers don't understand the role of Record Labels.
Record Labels rose up to fill the artist's need by doing all the stuff the artists didn't want to do. Someone had to step up and get the artist's music into the hands of the consumer and the artists themselves had no interest in being that person. That is why Record Labels exist and that is why they will continue to exist.
Don't get me wrong, it isn't out of the realm of possibility that the current crop of labels will die. I doubt it will actually happen but it isn't an impossibility. But the thing to remember is that the only way they'll die is if someone else shows up to take their place. Because someone has to continue to fill that void.
If that new group of business people show up they'll still need to protect the artist's interests so they'll still have to hire lawyers and those lawyers are going to advise them to do the same thing the current labels are doing now. In fact, the odds are good that a new group would make it worse because they will be up for a fight where as the current crop has, to an extent, been beaten down by public criticism.
But one way or the other Record Labels are still going to have to protect their product from being stolen. That is an inalienable fact. There is certainly room for new business models but someone is going to have to make the case for those models to a Record Label. Whether that's the current crop or a new crop really doesn't matter because each will be facing the same issues and each will be advised by the same lawyers.
You want to make a difference in the industry my advice would be to build a better mouse trap. Don't bother hoping for, wishing for or predicting the death of Record Labels because it isn't going to happen. Instead figure out how the Record Labels can still make their money without having to resort to the RIAA's tactics. Because answering that question is the only way this situation will ever be resolved.