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From Tom Fine: "...I still think the biggest parts of the trouble are: 1)
Big Music mega-glomerated into public 
companies controlled by accountants and lawyers and subject to the whims of
Wall Street, and Wall 
Street is obsessed with "new media" and thus under-values anything that's
not a near-profitless 
dot-bomb "business."  2) as others have stated and I have agreed, aural-only
entertainment may have 
been a short cultural blip against a longer recent history (since before
Roman times) of primarily 
visual entertainment..."

When I was a kid in the '50s RCA Victor, Columbia and Decca were clearly
MORE dominant than any of today's majors. I see this re-consolidation of
record labels as being a reaction to the consolidation of broadcasting and
retail stores. The latter has been arguably one of the main motivations for
the consolidation of broadcasting. It's easy to forget that the
Wal-Martization of America has profoundly affected every manufacturer in
addition to every local community. 

Certainly the results are the same but it's highly unlikely that replacing
the majors with somebody else is likely to change much. Laws being proposed
by the Silicon Valley crowd would effectively turn all music recordings into
shareware wiping out any individual artist's ability to make money off
recordings in a world without major labels. The rhetoric in their press
releases is fascinating because they hold on to their own intellectual
property with an iron fist while claiming "the public" deserves to have all
individual "content" creators give up their property rights.

Finally, I think aural-only entertainment plays a very different role in
people's lives than visual entertainment does. Likewise there is passive
entertainment and there is active entertainment. The difference between all
of these is the degree to which people tune out everything else they are
doing. While Wall Street tries to claim the two are comparable, the fact is
that television never did replace radio until radio began narrowcasting.
Each medium plays a pretty unique role.

Bob Olhsson Audio Mastery, Nashville TN
Mastering, Audio for Picture, Mix Evaluation and Quality Control
Over 40 years making people sound better than they ever imagined!