Here's an excerpt from an interview I did with Rupert for my Music 3.0 Internet Music Guidebook.
What’s the future of the major labels? Do you think they’ll survive?
I think they’ll survive because they and a lot of smaller labels have catalogs of recorded music and someone always wants to consume it. But they also have to consider what kind of business they’re in now. They’re not really into artist development anymore or signing lots of new artists like they used to in the past. What they’re really involved in is the business of rights management. They’re managing the rights in the same way that publishers are managing rights. The music publishing industry and the recorded music industry, two industries that grew up side by side, are now coming together a lot faster now because it’s a business of rights.
If you’re an artist, you will decide if you can manage your rights yourself or, if you’ve become successful, need someone to manage them for you on a global basis. Then maybe you go to one of these entities. Either way, you’re going to have a much greater degree of flexibility in how you deal with those rights going forward.
What would be the best way to break an act these days?
It’s back to immediately being able to build your website first, then communicating and interacting with your fans. Even if you only have 50 email addresses when you start, if you’re any good that will increase. Create your MySpace and Facebook pages because someone will see you and want to go to your website. When they get there you want them to be one click to anywhere they need to go. If they want to buy something, it’s one click. If they want a ticket, it’s one click. If they want to read the bio or see the photos, it’s one click. But in the end, it’s your songs and your performance that’s going to drive the traffic.
What you still never get away from is that it’s still about a song and it’s still about a performance of that song. Can you play that song in front of your audience however large or small and create the "WOW Factor?“
Is a CD necessary these days?
It still may be. People tell me that they sell 50 or 100 CDs at a show. If you control your content, sell X number of CDs, X number of T-shirts and merch, and stay on the road, you can make a pretty good living. You may not be a household name but you’ll have a really strong fan base, you’ll know who they are, and you’ll be able to communicate with them. The fan/consumer is the piece of the puzzle that you really need.
Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.