In reflecting on the world of the Music Business in 2004, there were some very profound and dramatic changes that changed the nature of the Music Business itself. 2004 will always be remembered as the year the ‘Big Five’ became the ‘Big Four’ and don’t be surprised if you’re reading at this time next year and we’re telling you about the ‘Big Three’! Beside the Sony/BMG merger, 2004 will also be remembered as the year labels utilized aggressively utilized video games as a marketing vehicle for the launching of many of their artists.
It will also be remembered as the year when the public finally said “No Thanks” to the Concert Business in a very loud and clear way. The summer touring season especially, was taught some very painful and costly lessons regarding who and exactly how much the public is willing to pay to see an act and what they are no longer willing to pay for! As a result Clear Channel has removed Service fees from its ticket prices and drastically reduced parking at many of its venues. The Industry also learned some very valuable (and long overdue) lessons on the volume of acts the marketplace is able to absorb as well as the actual live-viability of some of those acts.
Of course, the most profound impact on the the music business, was the closure of four major labels; DreamWorks, Arista, Elektra and MCA (although MCA was reborn with far less staff as Geffen). These closures accounted for the loss of nearly 600 jobs. New labels were not as plentiful as in years past.
Of note, EMI Music Publishing Executive Evan Lamberg formed E.V.L.A., a new label via Atlantic for EMI-signed writers, Simon Fuller (American Idol) formed 19 Recordings in the US and UK, Artist Manager Dave Benveniste has a new label venture – Velvet Hammer Music via Sony/BMG and Artist Manager Joe Simpson (manager/father of Ashley & Jessica Simpson)formed JT via Geffen, Producer Kanye West has formed Good Music via Sony/BMG in Los Angeles. Shaquille O’Neal has come back into the Music Business via Deja 34 out of Atlanta.
In looking back over the past year, we’re reminded of the many conversations we had with various Music Business Professionals from both sides of the Atlantic concerning the current state of the today’s Music Industry. Without exception, there seems to be a very sobering sense that the Record Business we have known for the last 25 years is now gone. This is extremely troubling for many, sad for some and terribly exciting for others.