The effect of the “Majors”…
Beyond marketing and promotion there are still major factors that keep music from becoming boring and in turn a part of popular culture. One of these factors is creativity, in my opinion it’s what keeps music “fresh” and exciting as well as keeping music from becoming a solely money making ventures.
With the monopoly that record labels have over the music industry, on their own they aren’t able to nurture and fund/release the broad range of acts from various genres and styles. This would be a problem if there was only the four major record labels and no other companies at all. Because there is a market for “independent” labels and/or smaller labels to distribute less mainstream acts or even acts that are a type of genre that record labels don’t want to bother with at the time, I think it allows for the creativity that is needed in the broader music industry.
That also allows the major record labels to poach the more successful and smaller acts from the smaller record labels, I tend to think this is probably a good thing from the music industry in general. Because it does allow major record labels to have artists on their roster that are something different to what they would normally have, and also allows for a broader range of artists on the label.
To enhance this effect, record labels fund shoot off labels that search for these new bands and or promote them through independent/small record label modes. I’m a bit “iffy” on this, as it’s slightly underhanded and tries to enhance a bands reputation through an alignment to a label that isn’t one of the majors. I guess the music will speak for itself though, so I’m probably being a bit picky.
I guess major record labels will always be around, as the costs around promotion and distribution are major for the bigger bands and musicians. In the end, with the decreasing costs of distribution and promotion through new methods and technology, it is slowly becoming less and less of a market for so many major record labels,specially considering the scope of some the the major labels.