By Andrew Liszewski
Even though the record industry claims to be in a slump as a result of ‘rampant piracy’ it looks like an old player is returning to the game but with some new tricks. For those who don’t remember in 1938 the Columbia Broadcasting System or CBS had bought Columbia Records but ended up selling it years later (in 1988) to Sony for about $2 billion. This sale also included CBS’ own label, CBS Records.
However Sony’s license to CBS Records has since expired and in December of last year the network announced that they’d be relaunching their label. But in order to be competitive they decided to embrace modern digital distribution methods instead of fighting them tooth and nail. In fact the label doesn’t even plan to press a physical CD for an album unless the digital sales indicate there’s a market for it. This is no doubt far cheaper than producing millions of albums that could end up being a flop and not selling.
The reborn label has also committed themselves to be extremely artist friendly. In fact they just signed their first four acts including the power-pop band ‘Señor Happy’ who recently told the Boston Globe the contract they signed with CBS was “…very, very fair. Far better than a standard major label deal.” They also said their share of the profits from digital downloads were equivalent to what a band might get from an independent label and lacked many of the ‘strings’ usually required from the other major music companies.
The new label will of course also benefit CBS who currently licenses a lot of popular music for use in their TV shows. With their own roster of bands and talent signed under CBS Records the network will have greater flexibility and access to that music. But that synergy will also benefit the artists with more publicity since these shows typically draw in millions of viewers. I sincerely hope that these new tactics work well for CBS Records since it will show all the other labels that these new methods of distribution aren’t something to fear.
[ CBS Records Returns VIA Stereophile ] – Thanks Stuart