I don’t believe the major music labels deserve to have their music stolen by downloads from the Internet. That said, to my knowledge the record industry is not a business that has conducted itself with much integrity. So it’s good to see that profits are being made by those who refuse to pander to the lowest common denominator:

While executives at [the five mega-majors: Sony Music Entertainment Inc., Universal Music Group, BMG Entertainment, EMI Group, and Warner Music Group] wail about the industry’s imminent collapse, indie labels and artists are singing a much happier tune. Profits are up–in some cases by 50 to 100 percent. That’s in contrast to overall album sales, which dropped about 11 percent in 2002. You won’t hear many of these labels’ artists on pop radio–and ironically, that’s one of the secrets to their success. By avoiding the major expenses associated with getting a tune on the air–which can cost upwards of $400,000 or $500,000 per song–independent labels are able to turn a profit far more quickly, and share more of those profits with their artists. Another secret of their success is that the labels target consumers–namely, adults–who are still willing to pay for their music, rather than download it for free…At a major label, most artists are unlikely to earn anything unless they sell at least 1 million albums, and even then, they could wind up in debt. Everything from studio time to limo rides are charged against their royalties, which might be only $1 per disc sold. That compares with an indie artist, who can sell a disc for $15 at a concert. If they make $5 profit a disc on 5,000 discs, they pocket $25,000. [Christian Science Monitor, 4/11/03]

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