Part of Apr 2011 by

AWOLNation on 2/11 at the Midland Theater by ZZimfo

The Future of Music is in Your Fridge

The general malaise of the recording industry is a well whipped horse cadaver in the media world–with many known labels self destructing. Recording has “battleship-turning-ability” against the “speed-boat-race” that is modern technology. There are many ingenious solutions coming from the artist level on:  how to survive and thrive in the digital age. But very few solutions from the labels, except suing Limewire for 75 Trillion dollars. (I guess eleventy gazillion was too much, so they settled on 75 Trillion instead.) One of the more interesting developments in the music business is that the future of the business model known as a “record label” may not lay with the labels at all. It will come from the music divisions of well known brands, who have way more money to burn than most labels do these days.

The most obvious instance of this is the new Red Bull Records. Energy drinks sponsor music events all the time across all genres, but Red Bull went ahead and changed the game altogether. To give you an idea of how serious they are:  they hired David Burrier–previously the vice president of marketing at Atlantic Records, and Merrideth Chinn from Warner Brothers–to head up the label. To date they have signed AWOLNATION, Black Gold, Twin Atlantic, and one of my favorite electronica/rock bands Innerpartysystem.

Now Im sure the other energy drink companies are watching Red Bull very closely to see what the next moves of their label division are, but I think its very possible for this to move beyond caffeine and taurine. Ford Motors is a well known supporter of music with programs like “Gimme The Gig.” As for beer companies, the most obvious choice is Jagermeister, which literally sponsors hundreds of major bands, to make the leap and have a label division. Granted the political land grab of snagging artists would be sticky at best. But contracts expire and Jager has a lot of money. Jager tours, with their artists, on their label.

I mean this really isnt a new phenomenon, its just new players are figuring it out. Sony has been doing it forever but they also sold 150 million Playstation 2s. They can afford a music label division. So I guess that leads to the obvious extrapolation of all this: The Apple music label division. The iBand. Im sure Microsoft would tag along. As long as Walmart doesnt jump in somewhere I guess Im good with it.



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