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Major Labels Face Reality
By Eric de Fontenay (Founder & Publisher)
(more articles from this author)
2003-02-28
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There's something peculiar about human nature: no matter how obvious something is, we tend to cling to the familiar, even where the familiar is delusional in the face of the obvious. It was obvious that stock markets could not eternally climb and were in fact certainly due for a massive correction. Yet, investors still plunked their money in the market with "irrational exuberance." It was obvious that eight & nine figure artist signings were not viable, even in a great market. Yet, there was Mariah Carey, to name just one.

It was just as obvious that the only way for major labels and online music distributors to compete with file sharing systems was to beat them at giving consumers what they want. For some reason, though, music industry executives were under the impression that they could dictate the rules to the market, in their favor of course, and buyers would just come streaming in. You could call it the industry's period of "irrational exuberance." But all delusions eventually crash into reality, in this case with the realities of the laws of economics.

AOL, as the latest to make the big splash in digital music services, has revealed to what extent the industry has progressively woken up to reality with a service that focuses on what consumers want: easy-to-find music they can download & burn without any hassles. Now it's up to the consumer to judge whether the industry's snap to reality is too little, too late.

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