Has Adele Shown The Music Biz It Has It All WRONG?

First week sales for Adele's 25 album in Canada have tipped 300,000 copies and are projected to have sold upward of 20 million worldwide. It's the fastest selling album in HISTORY.

Spun out, that's roughly $200M in first-week global billings for the record company, a fortune earned for the songwriters, the singer — and just about everyone else involved on the project.

It is also a godsend for record stores, department stores, and makes it a slam-dunk as the biggest entertainment story of 2015.

And how is the record industry promoting the fact?

Hell, it's hustling streams that pay the creators squat and fiddles investors that have spent hundreds of millions of dollars believing in a future awash in red ink.

The resolute belief that the CD is dead underlines just how music biz has not only lost its mojo, it has lost its collective common sense.

Music streaming is at best a niche market today. Yup, there are billions of streams — and a small percentage of these people are willing to pay for the services.

It is a business of tire-kickers funded by venture capitalists. It is an industry that has scratched the arses of the major labels and affiliated music publishers and put capital into their annual reports to make it appear that they know what they are doing, even as they continue to invest 90 percent of their A&R budgets into projects that sink faster than rational thinking at a Republican town hall debate.

Streaming is a rental business. An ephemeral side-show that feeds gluttony and pre-packs the world's greatest music in with a catalogue of unwanted failures. It's a gallery of world famous paintings haphazardly hung with black velvet eyesores.

Music streaming has attracted a universe of tire-kickers who pride themselves in curating an interminable list of specialized playlists appealing to an infinite universe of people with nothing better to do with their time than create them.

It is also a world populated by universe of people who have little to no dosh in the game.

Streamers as a percentage are free-loaders and not paying fans.

The music biz has sold itself to a dizzying line-up of fraudsters, hipsters, and know-it-alls pitching what increasingly looks like the equivalent of a Bernie Madoff futures fund.

Yes, perhaps I exaggerate — but the fact is the music business is eating crow today. It's losing its audience, it's lost a fortune, and now it has lost its control over its most valuable assets to bank its future on Apple and Google, a couple of tech firms that have seduced them like they were novice mariners aboard the Hesperus.

It is also a business today that pays its way selling antiques from the '60s, '70s and '80s. It is an industry so bereft of innovation and marketing brilliance that it is willing to spread its legs and give away its greatest assets for next-to-free.

Three-hundred thousand fans in Canada have slapped cash down to buy Adele's new album in stores and bundled online. The music industry hasn't seen anything like it since the Beatles played the Ed Sullivan Show — but, like lemmings, the record industry will ignore facts and follow in lock-step to the cliff to jump into the unknown. It is a wild gamble without a fall-back plan.

So, no more nonsense about Adele being the last kick at the can or 'who cares about the customer' because the album is dead. Either admit you are out of touch and get out of the way, or figure out what the customer wants and save your own bacon.

The statistical evidence is really not that complicated. Releasing records no one wants is about as easy a job as there is next to being an online columnist. A hit parade of artists such as Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and Yoan are a testament to the durability of the album format. In realtor terms, streaming is for the renters and home-owners want their own deluxe editions and are willing to pay a premium to own them.

Amen. Adele.

 

 

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