Counting Crows Go Label-Free
Wednesday, March 18, 2009; 1:00 AM
The Counting Crows have ended their eighteen-year label relationship with Geffen Records (now part of Universal Music Group), lead singer Adam Duritz says on the band's website.
Duritz says the band will go it alone, saying "the internet opens a world of limitless possibility, where the only boundaries are the boundaries of your own imagination." Apparently UMG didn't approve of breaking down some of those boundaries. Duritz added "Unfortunately, the directions we want to go and the opportunities we want to pursue are often things that our label is simply not allowed to do."
The band joins Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and others who's explored releasing music outside of the normal label/distributor world, and more are sure to follow. Labels are pushing all of their artists to sign 360 music deals that give them a cut of every revenue source, as CD sales become increasingly shaky. Without those deals, the labels are unlikely to be able to make much money from even their top artists after 2011 or so.
This trend of big money artists leaving labels to try things on their own is bad news for a music industry that faces falling CD sales, a terrible concert event economy in the short run and a general drying up of venture-backed startups willing to pay exorbitant settlement costs for copyright infringement cases. That's good news for the rest of us in my opinion - we're likely to see an explosion of music related innovation in the coming years.