Ballroom Dancing

SXSW panels

Ballroom Dancing
Photo By Gary Miller

When Indies Attack!

Austin Convention Center, Thursday, March 16

"I dream of being pirated," Cooking Vinyl managing director Martin Goldschmidt half jests. "Being pirated would mean I have a successful record." It's old hat by now: Labels are threatened by technology, but the argument has transformed from "How do we stop this?" to "How do we make this work in our favor?" Music lovers have gone from having 100 CDs to having 10,000 songs on their iPods and hard drives, so why isn't there a new business model? "Music has always been used as a vehicle for selling things," Sub Pop CEO Jonathan Poneman suggests. His label, like many others of the same stature, has become synonymous with quality, a key when it comes to winning customers. "I'm doing this because I love music," he says. It's common knowledge that indie labels aren't in it for the money, but even when faced with a huge band – as Barsuk owner Josh Rosenfeld learned from Death Cab for Cutie – the indies always come in second. As the demise of the major label continues, indie labels increase in both clout and prosperity. Until a new business model comes along where both Bar/None president Glenn Morrow and Apple CEO Steve Jobs receive fatter wallets, the indies will continue doing it for the love of music. "So please, everybody," Rosenfeld pleads, "stop signing terrible bands."

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