Published Nov 12, 2008Edgar Bronfman Jr., CEO of Warner Music Group, told a Web 2.0 conference a few days ago that his label requires all new artists to sign so-called "360 deals, a move thats sure to provoke ire from artists groups worldwide. 360 deals are a recent and controversial phenomenon, whic allow labels to tap into revenue sources that were traditionally exclusive to the artists. In short, a 360 deal allows the label to get a cut of all of a bands activities: merchandise sales, concert revenue, endorsements, online activity etc. So that they next time you buy a record and T-shirt from the merch tables you will have the honour of supporting your favourite bands label, as well as the band.
According to Bronfman, these deals are now mandatory one-third of Warners roster is under them in order for the label to have the incentive to make the needed investment to properly promote its artists. Sagging CD sales are, of course, to blame, and there is a growing consensus that downloads are eventually going to be free. The labels, Bronfman argues, need in on the rest of the action to make it worth their while. The other side of the coin, supposedly, is that the label will actively promote the artist in a multitude of areas.
Its unclear whether these deals will save the industry, but its certain they will relegate the music an artist produces as simply a part of a larger overall "brand something that I think we can all agree is balls.