New Report Illustrates How Record Labels Evolved Towards Streaming

Larry Miller, founder of music industry consulting and analytics firm Musonomics and NYU professor/director of the music business program at NYU Steinhardt, has released a report on the evolution of record labels in his new report, “Same Heart. New Beat. How Record Labels Amplify Talent in the Modern Music Marketplace.”

Based on almost 50 interviews with top-level executives at both major and independent record labels and commissioned by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Miller explores the changes that have taken place in the past decade with record labels in the digital age.

“The digital revolution in music meant that anyone with a creative spark and a computer could make and distribute a song. While terrifically empowering, this led to an avalanche of new music dumped online every week – paradoxically making it harder for musicians to connect with audiences,” said Miller. “As the former head of an indie with major label distribution in the early ’00s, I was curious to examine the current state of play. While there are examples of individual, DIY artist success, the realities of the 24/7 global marketplace demand specialized teams with the ability and resources to react instantly to opportunities wherever and whenever they pop up – and the labels have evolved to meet this need.”

The report examines the “Then” vs “Now” of A&R, Marketing & Promotion, Artist Contracts & Services, Sales & Distribution, and Data. Some of the key findings include:

  • Record labels have evolved to become music-based entertainment companies, focused on engaging fans with a continuous stream of social, “snackable” music-based content
  • The promotion of a single song now requires the resources that used to be allocated for an entire album
  • Data is critical in every aspect of operations – but only provides insight when coupled with the instinct derived from working on a deep roster of artists and genres across territories – to separate data signals from noise and form the right strategy for an individual artist or release
  • No longer constrained by limited physical retail shelf space, the opportunity for legacy artists has exploded as labels now maximize catalog in ways that go far beyond the occasional reissue

To download the full report, visit musonomics.org/modernlabelreport.

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Eric T. Parker oversees operations and contributes editorial for MusicRow's print magazine, MusicRow.com, the RowFax tip sheet and the MusicRow CountryBreakout chart. He also facilitates annual events for the enterprise, including MusicRow Awards, CountryBreakout Awards and the Rising Women on the Row. eparker@musicrow.com | @EricTParker

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