The record industry nearly went down the toilet,.
The record industry nearly went down the toilet, with the Big Four (Sony, Universal, Warner and EMI) struggling to sell music on an overpriced, near-obsolete format – the CD – in this brave new file-sharing, gamer-obsessed, recession-afflicted world. No matter how you track it, sales have dropped significantly every year, a trend that shows no sign of slowing.
Enter iTunes and digital downloads. Enter the resurgence of indie labels and vinyl. Exit music retailers like Tower Records, Sam the Record Man’s flagship Toronto store and Virgin’s sole Canadian store (in Vancouver). Exit major artists from major labels, including Radiohead, who released 2007’s In Rainbows independently, and Madonna, who inked a big-money deal with concert promoter Live Nation.
Medium-to-small-level musicians were hit hardest and shifted their survival strategies to focus on touring, selling merch and gaining fans through social networking sites.