By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
"There was a time when if you didn’t have food in your freezer you starved. That’s not true anymore. The digital bits you need to hear a song will arrive when you want them," Griffin declaims. "You want to hear Van Morrison’s ‘Moondance’? Ask for it! It’s not about having music, it’s about hearing music!"
Moreover, streamed, on-demand music needs no security. If you can get it whenever you want it — why copy it?
Will all of these developments mean the death, or at least the maiming, of the Big Five? With a virtually infinite number of new distribution avenues open — what good are big record labels?
Still good for plenty, says Griffin (who, after all, is a former label exec). No one else can stage the type of marketing juggernaut that a major label can. In Chuck D’s world of "a million bands and 500,000 labels," getting noticed in the crowd becomes more crucial than ever.
"The record company is more powerful in the future than it was in the past," says Griffin, whose firm advises music pro fessionals on how to use the Internet. "It doesn’t cost much to distribute records. But the issue is how to cut through the clutter of the marketplace, not how to get into the marketplace. In future, it’s going to be worse."
To Griffin, Chuck D’s goal of 50-50 profit splits is a fantasy. "I don’t think the future portends dramatically different profit allocations," Griffin says. "If it does, they may be worse for artists, not better. We may actually find that we removed a dollar from the cost of delivering music but find we added $3 in marketing costs. Getting the message across may be more, not less, expensive in the future."
But Chuck D dismisses the big corporations and their antics.
"The majors will say they promote, but they promote through traditional means — means that they dominate," he says. "The average person who wants to get into the recording industry cannot, because there’s no way they can pay $2 million to get their record on the radio. The bureaucracy in radio will be undercut. The retail outlets who are looking for money in order to sell a record will be undercut, and the record companies who think they’ve got all the areas sewn up for themselves will be undercut like a running back who’s been taken out from underneath on the way to the goal line. It means that all these cats have to share."
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