Escalating The Pace Of Change

Judging by the problems surfacing in the entertainment and media worlds around the globe, the pace of change is accelerating and companies are frantically realizing that new models are becoming essential for survival. Even the government is working to pass an enormous $819 billion stimulus package with tax and spend provisions.

Sony Corp reported (1/29) sobering third quarter results showing net profit for the 4th quarter dropped 95% from the same period last year. Sony also announced it expects to post a fiscal year operating loss of $2.9 billion. Losses in the TV operations lead the bad news.

AOL has announced it will lay off about 10% of its workforce or 700 employees at it tries to steady its balance sheet against strong downward ad revenue winds.

Media giant New York Times, whose corporate bonds are now rated “junk” is facing a 48% fourth-quarter decline in income. The newspaper says that print advertising has declined at a more rapid pace than previously anticipated. The venerable news source notes that declines in equity markets have left its pension plans underfunded by about $625 million and has placed its 18% stake in the Boston Red Socks up for sale to raise cash.

Even Wall Street’s power brokers are feeling the pain. According to the New York State comptroller, cash bonuses paid by Wall Street firms fell 44% in 2008 to a paltry $18.4 billion down from $32.9 billion in 2007. This largest-ever bonus decline will cost New York state over $1 billion in personal tax revenues.

So it is extra ironic, especially considering Country music’s shrinking SoundScan numbers, that a group of top level record executives will speak this evening at a Vanderbilt University-sponsored panel titled “Why Can’t Music Be Free?” The panel seemingly is to educate the audience about the importance of paying copyright owners. But the poster advertises, “Free music for the 1st 50” that attend.

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About the Author

David M. Ross has been covering Nashville's music industry for over 25 years. [email protected]

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