I enjoyed the following Denver Post article which was sent to the COMUG Misc mailing list. Artists turn tables on the major labels by going indie. It looks like the artists won't need iTunes and the Apple Store after all.
A brief summary of the article follows, 'cos I understand that the Post articles drop behind a paywall like the New York Times.
Tangent: I wonder if the permalinks meme will enter the consciousness of the journalism industry. It seems likely that journalists will begin to go independent like the musicians mentioned in the Post article, rather than depend on newspapers to market their content. Will they implement pay walls in their web logs, or will some other payment scheme emerge? Am I'm confusing free content with permanent links, or is there something important about making the content available freely? I kinda like the model Salon uses for premium content -- leave a lengthy first page freely available behind a permanent link, and ask readers to subscribe, pay-per-view, or watch an ad.
The article mentions several artists whose names you probably know and quotes several others directly. The gist of it is that the big five music publishers shafted some veteran artists who weren't selling in large enough volume, so they've chosen to create their own labels or release their music through smaller labels. In the case of the Eagles, it sounds like they just decided it was in their economic interest to remove the middle man. Their case is thematic for the article: musicians don't really need a big label to market their music anymore. They can establish their own small market through a web site and maybe through some internet radio stations, and they can produce their own disks and keep their masters to themselves.
Artists mentioned: Pearl Jam, Natalie Merchant, Jimmy Buffett, the Eagles, Boston, Richard Thompson, Fairport Convention, David Lindley, Kaleidoscope, El Rayo-X, Prince, and Boz Scaggs.
My little summary probably doesn't do the article justice. There are lots of fun quotes in there from the artists. It's worth a read, but I also wanted to insulate my own post from potential link-rot.