It was brilliant to see the O Brother soundtrack win best album Grammy last week. The wonderful bluegrass album's overwhelming word of mouth popularity could be a warning to lazy record company people (too often, people who don't like music) to lift their game. Even in Australia, the O Brother soundtrack spent some time in the ARIA top 40.
In an essential article, Newsweek agrees....
"So what can the industry learn from “O Brother”? Probably nothing. For one thing, authenticity can’t be cloned without turning it into “authenticity,” and smart listeners can hear quotation marks a mile away. For another, record executives must be among the slowest learners on the planet. Only 5 percent of major-label releases make a profit; a big company needs to sell 500,000 copies of a CD just to break even. Hmm: could any of this have to do with dumb decisions? Virgin Records bought Mariah Carey for $80 million in 2001, only to give her an extra $28 million last month to go away. Meanwhile, Sheryl Crow and Don Henley have felt compelled to found the new Recording Artists’ Coalition, an organization of high-profile performers hoping to protect musicians from their own labels."