How the Music Industry Died: Steve Knopper's Appetite for Self-Destruction

A Rolling Stone reporter charts the doomed path from Thriller to Internet-based horror

The last chapter lists everything the music industry should do—needs to do—to survive. What percentage of that do you think will actually come to pass? How optimistic are you? What percentage of the people you interviewed will still hold the same job five years from now?

I just think that the smaller labels are going to continue to stumble, if they're not bought outright. EMI seems to be reeling right now. Warner's stock price is way down, although they've had some success. Probably, you're going to wind up with a couple hit machines: Universal, maybe Sony-BMG. You still are going to need those kinds of companies, that expertise, to find the proverbial Toni Braxton singing in the gas station, discovered by some label talent scout. But those companies are going to make less and less money, and get smaller and smaller, and get less and less influential, and I think that maybe Live Nation or Ticketmaster or my mythical Apple-EMI is going to pop up and change the model and be more nimble.

Another point I want to make is that these labels will always own some really incredible assets. EMI owns the Beatles catalog, so they're always going to be a player. You or I could own the Beatles catalog and make money. Just not make enough money to have hookers and blow.

More Q's and longer A's from this interview are available here.
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