View from a Record Store #7
Quality control, who needs it? Phil's back on mic stand...
Back on to my favorite subject. The continuing saga of failing quality control; which results in the over issuing of music. Choice taken to the point where you no longer have any.
Recently, well 20 years ago actually, a study was done by a major supermarket, we'll call them Tesco's, because that was their name. The study looked at the result in increasing choice in its grocery department. There had been a proliferation of apple types, from the usual 3 to 15. The consequence was a lowering of apple sales overall. Also, the majority of apple sales were still the original three.
They concluded that it was not always a good idea to provide a wide choice.
Of course they then ignored this piece of information and are now doing what they found they shouldn’t. Now major supermarkets a reaping what they sowed. Their margins are ever decreasing, and (in Tesco's case), despite turning over some £60 billion, and making a profit of £2.67 billion, this only represents a profit margin on turnover of 4%. You can get better with a pensions annuity, even at the moment you can get 6%! Of course this is a bit circular, as what pension funds are investing in is, well Tesco's. But I digress.
Well in music they have done this with knobs on. So convinced are they that they are right that for the last 20 years major record labels have been dragging out some real awful bilge, and foisting it on us; telling us how amazing it is, making sure the right magazines say the right thing, ensuring it's the only thing on TV, busily generating a market, and is it turns out, a market that does not exist. Rhianna just got to number 1 in the album charts, she sold less than 10,000 copies.
Does anything else need to be said.
These guys are all redundant, they are meaningless. They bring nothing to the party. In fact, they are merely stalling the inevitable fall of the majors. Followed by the inevitable cessation of high street selling of music. The new generation of labels, bands, shops, venues are all waiting for their turn. So if they could just get out of the way, that would be good.
For me, a great example of just how out of touch 'main stream' music companies have become is what happened during the Olympic opening ceremony. I think we can all agree that of the 4 ceremonies for the Olympics, only the big opener was any good. The others were the usual bland bollocks.
The big opener however had some great filler music. And once they got past 1990 there was one noticeable thing. No Blur, no Oasis, no Coldplay, no Radiohead. Why, and I know this is going to stir some people, because they are a load of arse; and have been churning out the same old guitar driven tedium that EMI and Universal/Decca have been telling us we need since 1965. Instead we got Blanck Mass, Fuck Buttons, High Contrast, Dizzee Rascal, Underworld. All great British music, all on independent labels.
So here we are, a burgeoning, if slightly crowded independent market. A collection of dying majors. Feels pretty good actually. Its going to be painful for a couple of years, HMV going down will take some pretty good people, musicians, and companies with them; but out of the rubble will appear a very healthy music industry. And from here we all must learn that music is not about homogenisation. But about quality and choice; controlling the 2, reducing choice to a reasonable level (so you can manage it) and increasing quality, (so the chances of you buying a stinker go down).
On a final note. Piracy........ if you ain't paying then you are expecting someone somewhere to work for free for your entertainment. It really is that simple. Piracy is not new, and its not going away, but when some muppet like Ed Sheeran says 'well I don't mind as I want music out there' and when asked, well what about the engineers in the studio, the label who promoted you to the bland mega star you have become, what about the hundreds of people that allow you to get out there. Everyone's got to eat.
Back to my old saying. Always leave something in it for the other guy.