Over the weekend, Techcrunch’s Michael Arrington posted the details of a recent conversation he had with an anonymous “big music-label executive,” much of which focused on the perceived cluelessness of record-company employees. According to Arrington’s source, “It’s all part of a master plan” — the labels know that in the future music will be free, but if they altered their business model in any serious fashion, it would only cut into CD sales, which are still making them money.
So, operating with minimal staff and budgets, they apparently plan to just fade profitably into irrelevance over these next few years, earning money on CDs, suing Internet start-ups, and collecting royalty payments from Apple, MySpace, Imeem, and others (“Until CD sales really stagnate, all those revenue streams bring in more money than facing reality,” says Arrington, paraphrasing his source). Then, in 2013 or so, once consumers have finally stopped paying for music completely, the plan will enter phase two and the labels will snap back into action with a profitable new business model (at least this is the idea).
If any of this is true, and the still-employed label execs really are trying to appear boneheaded on purpose, all while collecting huge salaries, we have to wonder — what do they do all day? Golf? Laze around in hammocks? Take month-long Hawaiian vacations? Aside from their having to be called stupid by everyone wherever they go, that sounds like a pretty sweet job.