From the perspective of those who run the label, what are the major problems facing the recording industry?
Vested interest from large labels acting as purely mercenary organisations. They have managed to squeeze the majority of creativity out of the industry and bent it to a public opinion shaping mechanism which forces the public to respond and pay for the offerings they are being given. Consequently, there is no choice, the artist pallette presented is vapid and routed around boy/girl bands, talentless divas with body enhancements and moronic purveyors of gangster rap. Or there are the technicians outputting specific constructed genre based drivel.
This lack of creativity is now such that artistic use of sampling is applauded. What at best may be defined as a technical skill is now mass market. This has combined with the typical dumbing down of culture led by the Americans, to sponsor a level which may now be fully controlled. The 'mass market' is now composed of individuals with the average age of 10 to 13. How discerning are they? However, 'mass market' may now be debated when 10,000 singles can give you a UK No. 1. A little different to the required 500,000 of a few years back. It feeds the spiral.
The returns on a so-called artist are less per unit, so the artist must be niche-defined and guaranteed as an earner by the label. The artist is less likely to be allowed to be a band since they are logistical nightmares costing an arm-and-a-leg to move round the country. The artist is less likely to be a writer since that implies lack of niche control for the label. Technology has moved on to such a level that a singer does not need to be able to hold a tune, we correct that in the studio and on stage if required.
Of course, nowadays a band seldom performs live when on stage, backing tracks and mime rule, plus how can one sing when out of breath due to the need to carry out the seemingly endless inane dance moves necessary to put across a lyric composed of ten choice words and a grunt or two.
So there are less and less musicians and less creativeness in the industry performing nationally. Those that are around tend to play locally, earning peanuts, but capable of far greater musicianship than anything seen on mass media. Local independent labels try to fund what they can for them. Meanwhile, the kids are rediscovering the contents of their parents’ record collections and turning on to Zeppelin, King Crimson, Yes, Deep Purple, Eric Clapton, Satriani and Vai, Floyd, Zappa etc. Unfortunately, these are all 55 plus or dead and there are fewer real musos available to take their place long term.