Warner Music readies CD-free ‘e-label’ 23 Aug 2005

18 comments Latest by trae

A progressive idea from a major label: Edgar Bronfman Jr., Warner Music’s chairman and CEO, describes their “e-label,” concept in which artists will release music in clusters of three songs every few months rather than a CD every few years.

The e-label will permit recording artists to enjoy a “supportive, lower-risk environment” without as much pressure for huge commercial hits, Bronfman said. In addition, artists signed to the e-label will retain copyright and ownership of their master recordings.

Nice idea. Let’s see where this goes. [Thanks C. Hincks]

18 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Darrel 23 Aug 05

Thumbs down for slapping an ‘e’ in front of it (how is that progressive?)

And thumbs down for being years late to the party.

But, thumbs up for giving the artists ownership.

Hopefully, artists will figure out sooner or later that they don’t NEED the giant labels at all to distribute their music and make money.

Stephen 23 Aug 05

And rather than call them LPs, we could call them EPs! Oh… hang on.

kingbenny 23 Aug 05

I don’t think we’re quite to the point yet of where artists need to “figure out sooner or later that they don’t NEED the giant labels to make money” - unfortunately, labels are still kinda a necessity to make money, even though they rip off the artists.

Anonymous Coward 23 Aug 05

unfortunately, labels are still kinda a necessity to make money, even though they rip off the artists.

Ahh, here we go again. Ripping off the artists when the artists sign the contracts. Don’t sign then. Do it on your own then. Oh yeah, my bad, you can’t cause you need the big bad label people. Boo hoo music people, boo hoo.

SP 23 Aug 05

I give ‘em props for trying a new idea, but from the information given, I’m not sure it is the greatest idea. But we’ll see. I have to wonder, who gets signed to this label? Is it something that only bands already signed to Warner’s can participate in, meaning it will simply be an outlet for R.E.M. b-sides and stuff like that? Or will it be for bands that Warner doesn’t want to sign outright, but has some measure of interest in… sort of like a development deal? If it is the latter, does it come with a lot of strings attached or is it truly a one-off thing? I’d be interested to know more about how it is going to work.

LinkTiger 23 Aug 05

I don’t think the big news is the download-only format nor the clusters as oppossed to albums. The big news is that artists will retain ownership. This is huge, because this opens up tons of new opportunities for podcast-safe and bittorrent-safe music. The artist decides, not some money-hungry exec. This is exciting.

Benjy 23 Aug 05

unfortunately, labels are still kinda a necessity to make money, even though they rip off the artists.

I just don’t think this will be the case very soon, even today possibly. Historically, the labels have had the resources to record/produce an album, print/distribute an album, and promote an album. That’s what the artists needed the labels for.

Today, recording/production costs a fraction of what it once did as technology gets cheaper and better. Many home studios are as good as the best professional ones were not too long ago. The manufacturing and distribution of music can be replaced with online distribution, and even small runs of CD to sell at shows are a lot cheaper now. Marketing can also be done online. Build a fanbase, promote and interact with them online via blogs, etc. Find ways into “locals only” radio programs, XM & sirius, etc. eventually the major stations will want to pick up successful artists. Sure it’ll still take some money to get off the ground, but now artists are talking about much smaller amounts that can be raised without having to sign over so much of their profits to a label.

Darrel 23 Aug 05

“unfortunately, labels are still kinda a necessity to make money, even though they rip off the artists.”

Make your music, have CD Baby distribute it on iTunes. Dpne.

YES, one needs exposure so people start buying the music, but the industry doesn’t help with that a whole lot anyways. Yea, if you are in that 10% target demographic, they’ll toss out some payola or get you on the latest teen soap opera soundtrack, but for the most part, I don’t see how an artist really needs the mega-label.

Zane Tate 23 Aug 05

Yeah it’s not really a new idea… A number of indie labels have existed for a while now, doing just what Warner plans to do. (actually I signed to one) Still, I can’t blame them for ripping the idea - it’s a good one.

I think it’s great that the industry is trying to do something positive, rather than just fight downloading. Of course it remains to be seen how successful they’ll be. The fact that they call it an e-label doesn’t sound promising…

Chris 23 Aug 05

I think that the fact that a major is doing this is positive for a couple of reasons. One, it’s a positive response to file sharing and would seem to represent a realization that the old model doesn’t work as well as it did. File-based models by indies may be cool (the description of Magnatude is really neat), but they don’t have the resources of a major. If a major can work with a new artist without exposing them to that horrendous marketing-driven business model and can allow them to be successful as a local or regional artist, it’s a huge step forward.

I live in Austin and used to play in bands. I can’t tell you how many bands I’ve seen get deals with majors and then go nowhere because they didn’t fit a mold. If some of those bands could have grown more slowly, done more stuff regionally, and had support that matched their ambitions, they might still be around today. Not everyone is dying to be the next mega rock star.

Tony 23 Aug 05

FYI, Bronfman is the same douchebag that says:

“We like government levies when they benefit us,” Bronfman said. “I would like none of the legislators in France, for instance, to say they should no longer pay us a levy for all the blank CDs that are being sold…”

Quoted from the same article Jason Links to.

Peter Cooper 24 Aug 05

Ben Folds did this for a couple of years with his three EPs project. It worked well. He charged less per disc, but fans got the music more quickly and he kept himself going. Nothing like quick iterations, whether it’s software or music IMHO..

Darrel 24 Aug 05

Rarely does a tagline work, IMHO, but Magnatune’s is just wonderful.

Wesley Walser 25 Aug 05

I am not so much interested in where this particular one goes, as if perhaps it can spawn some other companies to try out similar/newer ideas. That’s where things could get interesting.

trae 09 Oct 05