Source: Geoffrey Johnson
Current Record Company
Trends Inhibiting Artist Development
Regardless of one’s view on the moral or economic implications of illegal downloading, it is well established that diminished revenue streams leave less money to finance projects. This disintermediation incited an extreme shift on the major label level toward the industry oversight model of artist development, at the expense of the artistic freedom model.
These current record industry trends are inhibiting artists signed to labels whose notion of artist development is rooted in the ability to write and record their own songs.
Record companies have largely stopped making the long-term investments that allowed artists, such as U2 and Filter, to develop their craft over an extended period. Patrick echoes these sentiments when he maintained that there will not be “the [artistic freedom model] of artist development [on the major-label level]” because those types of “bands cannot get financed anymore by labels.”
Moreover, U2 guitarist, The Edge, claims that Island Records’ flexible approach to U2’s development “certainly would not happen today.” Instead, record executives have begun to stifle their artist roster’s creative development. One way this happens is the practice by which record executives bring in outside songwriters to write songs for some of rock’s most popular acts. These songwriters, or “song-doctors,” are “a small group of hired songwriting hands who have been indispensible to some of rock’s most popular acts, including Daughtry, Hinder, and Pink.”
Record companies rely on their ability to produce “penetrating and saturating [radio] hit,” albeit generic, songs as to maximize the few investments they choose to still make in younger bands.
The circumstances surrounding the 2009 major-label debut of album of poppunk band, Mayday Parade, underscore this practice. Atlantic Records “asked the bands to work with outside songwriters” in order to replicate the successful sound “of other modern pop-rock bands.”
The band agreed, sacrificing self-control over their musical output for a chance to gain widespread commercial success on the major-label level. While the jury is still out on Mayday Parade, this standard has produced significant success for major-labels. In 2007, two albums that were assisted by a slew of heavy-hitting songwriting pros,” Daughtry’s self-titled debut album and Hinder’s Extreme Behavior, sold 2.7 and 2.9 million units respectively.
However, many see this trend as “homogenizing” the musical output of major-label artists.
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