The music industry’s digital revolution

Vinyl, cassette, CD, Minidisc, MP3, streaming — the music industry has always been evolving with technology. However, the Internet shattered the major label complex. Previously, the record labels owned the record and could do whatever they wanted with it, profiting from the majority of the royalties.

“The most important thing for a record company is to find talent and to find repertoire. We’re trying to make the songs that become the soundtrack to your lives.” — Nick Raphael, Capitol Records UK

But some artists like Radiohead took the power back. They cut ties with EMI and distributed In Rainbows online, allowing fans to pay what they wanted. Radiohead made more money on that album than any of the digital sales of the other albums combined.


Since then, a new type of label emerged to keep up with the digital age. Kobalt sells its software as a service, offering artists like Snow Patrol more transparency in the money they make and most importantly, allow the artists to keep all of their revenue.

“Now a record deal is an option you don’t have to take.” — Sam Winwood, Kobalt

The major labels are adapting. Sony inked a deal with YouTube sensation Jacob Whitesides, allowing him to keep the rights to his catalog. But some label bosses are still resistant, arguing that they’re the ones developing new talent and spending big cash to break new stars.

The digital landscape offers artists more options than ever before. It gave the artists rights to create and distribute and market directly to fans.

“Nothing is bigger than the music itself.” — Moby

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Published by Wells Baum

A daily blogger who connects the dots between arts and life.