Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

A Veteran of Big Music Explains Why Big Music Is Doomed

There are plenty of people who can explain, persuasively, why the big music labels are screwed. And many of them still work for the big music labels. But these people can’t speak candidly, of course, until they’re off the payroll.

Comes now Jeff Bronikowski, who spent 11 years at Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest label, and left last year.

In an interview with Billboard, the former SVP of “global digital initiatives” explains concisely why his former employer and the other big guys are just playing out the string: CD sales are wasting away, and the digital boost they were counting on simply isn’t big enough.

Download growth is slowing down, dominated by one retailer. The ancillary revenue streams like ringtones are in decline, and the new possibilities like Nokia’s Comes With Music haven’t panned out yet either.

To be fair, Bronikowski then offers a qualifying, semihopeful note. Which he needs to do, as he’s still working with the music labels–now as the head of Yahoo’s (YHOO) small music unit.

And I occasionally talk to someone in the recorded music business who still thinks the labels can pull it off–maybe Spotify will really work or maybe Apple’s (AAPL) cloud strategy will help boost sales. Etc.

You never know! They could be right. Sony (SNE) even reported an uptick in sales last quarter. But after a decade-long slump, it is getting awfully difficult to find a bona fide optimist.

Such a glum post, so early in the morning! Time to liven it up, per request. Thanks to Tristan Mahr.


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