The remaining 3 “major” labels – Universal, Sony and
EMI – will be out of the classical business within 2 years. They will
create no more than a handful of additional classical CDs. With the
possible exception of a few “crossover” artists the labels will drop
all of their classical artists. The majors will focus on trying to
salvage their pop business and will abandon classical because it is
more trouble than it is worth. The 20th century recording industry and
business model is obsolete. It will soon be gone.
remaining viable classical label will be Naxos. Their costs are
dramatically lower and their business model allows them to operate
profitably in a smaller industry and with much lower sales numbers. A
primary contributor to Naxos’ lower costs is the fact that they don’t
pay any residuals to the performers. There is no income potential for performers in the Naxos model! They will profitably produce CDs for several years longer than the majors.
will be a small number of “vanity” labels left but their volume will be
microscopic and they will operate on the same financial model as Naxos.
They will ultimately disappear as well.
the entire recorded history of classical music will vanish from the
world. None of the pre-2000 material had digital rights cleared when it
was recorded and the cost of clearing these rights now dwarfs any
income that could result. There is no commercially viable model for
reviving this material.
Here is more, interesting throughout and the comments are excellent. The author does suggest that live concerts still will be broadcast over the web and in some other ways marketed. An alternative is that governments assign the digital rights unilaterally or the whole model goes grey/illegal as people dump their CD content onto web sites. Furthermore I don’t think recorded classical music will disappear, as the independent labels continue to issue releases, the demise of recording has been forecast for a long time, and my copy of Fanfare (classic music reviews) is much thicker now than two years ago.