and I eventually meandered over to this:
Surprisingly well made points here. But there is one thing I need to add:
The labels are dying because they are distributors of a thing we call “music”, but should more accurately call “sound”. Nowadays, sounds are digital ghosts that can be cloned infinitely and made to play out anything. Sound is cheap, and sound is everywhere.
If the labels are going to find a use for themselves, they need to get involved with distributing something MORE THAN JUST “SOUND”. They need to transform into tour booking agents, merchandise manufacturers, instrument makers, advertisers … ANYTHING that they can offer in service of a more complete art form than just the sound itself. Because nowadays, the sound is just the tiny, cheap corner of something bigger - a dance hall, a show, a concert, a tour, an open-mic jam session, a thing that people can DO or GO TO or take part in. In other words, music is transforming back into what it used to be, wayyy back in the days before most of us were born, before the labels, when the only music you heard was coming out of a real live person, and he/she was playing it for a real live reason.
The last forty years have raised an entire two generations who are watchers and listeners, but not participators. Now, with luck, that trend will reverse itself. As an aside, have any of you ever gone swing-dancing at a joint with a live band? If you have the guts to do it, I guarantee you’ll have more fun than any concert you’ve ever been to where you have to sit in a chair.