The music industry was among the first of the big entertainment businesses to feel the impact of the Internet, starting with MP3 downloads, ad-free radio, the file-sharing challenge of Napster, and, most recently, the single-channel price-setting domination of iTunes. Today former behemoths like Warner Music Group struggle to redefine themselves, seeking to add sustainable economic value by managing the comprehensive go-to-market strategies of artists in so-called “360 deals” (see here for a fascinating Fast Company profile of WMG and its emerging model).
And now that cutting CDs is no longer essential to the artist to listener value chain, music industry incumbents will have to deal with a whole new competitor — and here I’ll attempt to coin a neologism to see if it sticks — the “blabel”. Yes, you interpreted that correctly: music blogs are becoming record labels. More accurately, at least two of them are doing so. This past May the blog (and radio show) Masalacism launched the logically-named label Masalacism Records, followed this month by Brixton/Oakland/Bogota-based blog Ghetto Bassquake (find their debut release, a single from Hackney Empire, here). A third blog, this time of The Fader magazine, interviews the Ghetto Bassquake team and explores the philosophy behind the new venture:
Will “Vamanos” Quiney: It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, but had never found the right music that inspired and excited me enough to actually go for it. Running the blog has obviously given me the opportunity to connect with artists and then promote them, so starting a label felt like the natural progression. I’m so excited to actually be finally doing it. I definitely don’t see it as a business model initially but we’ll see. Ahem… Ghetto Bassquake Tees coming soon!
Chief Boima: I think the biggest benefit is to be able to control your own interests in your product/art/music/vision and—in my idealistic mind—that mass media as democratic medium puts collective power into more peoples’ hands. Of the people I know that have started labels in this age, I can’t think of one that has entered into the business to make MONEY in the old-school music industry sense. Everyone seems to be pretty aware that the old business model is dead and dying. I get really excited by “alternative” or informal music industry models. I just came back from South America and was excited to see how the different local music economies are set up, from La Paz (Bolivia) to Baranquilla (Colombia).
Read the rest of the interview here.