Manage for Success: Fall-Out, Newsletter #114, December 2010


"Manage for Success" is a free monthly newsletter for record label executives who want to operate their companies efficiently and successfully. It's published by Keith Holzman of Solutions Unlimited, a management consultant, troubleshooter, and trusted advisor, and is based on his many years as a senior executive in the music industry.


Copyright 2010 by Keith Holzman, Solutions Unlimited. All rights reserved.


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As Fall approaches Winter, another year is quickly drawing to a close. It's been a time of ups and downs and extremes. The recording industry is gasping for air in an attempt to stay alive and relevant, and not incidentally to release music of significance. Heroic measures and CPR don't appear to be doing much good.


One of the reasons for generally lackluster sales is that there doesn't seem to be a lot of what I consider to be really meaningful music, at least from the majors. Yes, there have been a few successes. A year that offers such disparate talent as Katy Perry, Eminem, Jay-Z, Glee Soundtracks, Lady Gaga, and Susan Boyle can't be all bad, whether or not you may be a fan.


As for the majors, they'll either survive, or they won't, and not many of us will shed crocodile tears if they fail. EMI is hanging on by a thread and will probably be gobbled up by one of the remaining three. But as I write this, major changes are expected at the very top of both Universal Music and Sony Music. Frankly, I don't think senior management changes at those two "biggies" will do much to change the way they operate as labels and distributors. They're still primarily interested in mass-market hits that generate "tonnage," and are less interested in building careers by cultivating nascent artists and seeing them grow and develop into stars of the future. Only Warner Music has held on to its senior management, and seems to know what they're doing, and where they want to head.


As for independent labels, their potential varies greatly. Some are consistent in the quantity and quality of music they release, and manage to be profitable, even if marginally so, year after year. Others flounder about trying to latch on to any elusive hit that might sell in volume. They don't sign the kinds of artists who perform regularly in front of paying audiences, thereby building their fan bases. And they don't do enough to nurture their artists and to help them build long-lasting careers that result in regular new releases, and that keeps their music alive and relevant over a period of years. Smart labels with clever management know that this latter approach makes for strong artists, consistency of regular new releases, and vigorous and usually profitable labels.


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Need a last minute stocking stuffer for a music-business colleague? Consider a gift of the Second Edition of my book, "The Complete Guide To Starting A Record Company" which can be ordered as a downloadable eBook (in Adobe Acrobat® PDF form) at $29.95, or as a printed, spiral-bound book at $44.95. You can read the complete Table of Contents and download the Introduction for free at              <http://www.recordcompanystartup.com/>.


It makes a great present!


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Since business generally slows down at this time of year, perhaps giving you a bit of leisure, it's a great time to take stock of the state of your record label. There are a number of things you might want to think about, many of which were outlined in my Newsletter #68 from December 2006 and which many clients have found helpful. <http://www.holzmansolutions.com/articles/68-dec06.html>


Once again I'm declining to make predictions for next year, other than that labels that are not run well will experience lots of problems and may not survive, while those that are well-managed will likely continue to prosper.


Finally, let me take this opportunity to thank my clients for their loyalty, and to wish you and yours a very happy Holiday Season with best wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year.


Until next month,

Keith Holzman -- Solutions Unlimited

Helping Record Labels Manage for Success.


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Copyright 2010 by Keith Holzman, Solutions Unlimited. All rights reserved.