Some serious developments in the music industry in recent days. If it's not long-standing players in the industry dying off or facing other dire situations, it's greed and monopolistic practices destined to kill the remaining bits.
First off, the oft-derided Muzak Corporation is filing for bankruptcy
. Now, some out there might think this is not such a bad thing, preferring instead to take their elevator rides sans cheerful generic pop music done entirely in strings. But their reach goes beyond lifts, and the music spans the spectrum from headbanging to nodding off. Those of you who subscribe to Dish Network satellite television in the days before they carried the Sirius music channels were treated to several dozen channels of varied, totally uninterrupted music of every genre. These channels came courtesy of the Muzak Co. The thrash metal and thug rap might not have found a home in your average dentist's office, but if it had anything to do with music, Muzak would handle it. Also, the company was not without it's sense of humor. Known mostly for cheesy remakes of pop standards into instrumental string arrangements, they would occasionally slip remade versions of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and the like into the music streams feeding shops and stores. This would completely fly over the heads of everyone, except for those who know the originals and 'get' the joke. If Muzak dies, a lot of Eastern Bloc radio orchestras will be down on work.
Speaking of Sirius, it seems that the newly-minted SiriusXM satellite radio conglomerate is also facing some serious financial dire straits
. Let me be the first to say 'I told you so'. Take two competing companies, neither one able to operate in the black since their inception, and merge them into a single anti competitive entity. You end up with one company with twice the troubles. The satellite radio industry is buoyed by the sales of new cars and continuing subscriptions, neither of which is happening in this recessionary (depressionary) period. Sirius made the big mistake of hauling Howard Stern on board for the ridiculous sum of a half billion dollars. While this caused an initial uptake of subscribers, the math was not there. Stern, like so many people these days should take a pay cut in order to stay employed. I honestly feel that it's too late in the game for the satellite radio giant, since their combined force resulted in a lot of upset customers, and the increased price of subscriptions will drive off existing customers and keep new ones away. You just dont go around raising prices and cutting service on what is essentially a 'luxury' item during periods of slow economy. It's a sure-fire way of losing customers, both potential and existing.
Dish Network, a major holder of SiriusXM, has in the past put it's sights on Sirius. This can be a formidable threat in the near future as SiriusXM looks for any way out of the mess. But I feel the satellite TV industry is going to soon be hit with it's own desire to merge, if for all the wrong reasons.
We've all read about (and I have written about) how the major music labels are dodging coffins amongst decreased sales and alleged music piracy. The one bright spot held up by music fans, artists and promoters is the sales of concert tickets and live performances. This is about to take a hideous turn for the worst, at least in the U.S. as the two purveyors of live music, Ticketmaster and Live Nation, prepare to merge
. This is some terrible news for music fans, since the combined conglomerate, to be called Live Nation Entertainment, will be the sole source for concert tickets to major venues and acts nationwide. The combined entity will be a vertically integrated business controlling venues, promotion, ticket sales and even recording deals with artists. How did this happen? Live Nation, once part of Clear Channel Communications (aka The Company That Ruined Radio) was primarily a concert venue owner and promoter. Ticketmaster, that company everyone loved to hate because of their penchant for tacking on exorbitant 'convenience fees' and other dubious charges onto ticket prices, was often the sole source for tickets to major (and not-so-major) live events. At one time, the two companies had begun 'competing' in ticket sales, but that was short lived. Turns out it was machinations leading towards this eventual merger.
Ticketmaster had in recent years began their own mass-scalping operation by redirecting people looking for popular shows to their wholly-owned ticket 'auction' site, TicketsNow, mere minutes after tickets would go on sale and were supposedly sold out. Tickets for sale at TicketsNow would often be three to ten times the face values of the original or box office tickets. Canadians have brought aboot their own half-billion dollar class action lawsuit
as a result.
With all the financial and business shenanigans these two companies engaged in, it does not take much to know what the end result will be. Forget going to live shows of any major acts unless you do some serious saving, go into debt or are independently wealthy. This will only serve to take an already teetering music industry and send it over a cliff. Of course, it will all be blamed on file sharing. The only real solace will be found in the independent, small acts and clubs. Much like it was before music became an 'industry'.