With more than 20 years in the music business, I’ve seen my fair share of changes but this year has been quite extraordinary. The fall in hard copy sales has continued apace and though digital sales are growing, the gaps getting bigger. So the labels are stretching out trying to find any number of new revenues, whatever the size.

The one closest to my experience is the deals around music videos with labels simply going for the short-term cash to boost the bottom line while undermining their longer term marketing operations. Tie that into supplementary deals around additional content and the squeeze on ad-supported music online is getting tight.

It’s not happened yet but all the major players online are looking pretty closely at whether there’s even a business around music content anymore. Imagine one folds on music, how quickly will the others follow? With more traffic moving online from TV and more music disappearing from TV, where and how will labels surface their acts? Co-operation is a two-way street but at the moment the labels are not giving, just taking.

Maybe it will take one of the online major players to walk away from the table for them to realise there’s no easy big hits online but there are lots of little ones that add up. The question is whther the big labels can learn to slim down and move fast.

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