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Why Good Records can Fail
January 07, 2003

Accountability for Records That Are Commercial Failures
By: Roderick T. Head

As urban music professionals, each of us can probably name at least five albums that either should have been successful or were destined to be "instant frisbees" from the beginning. While one is quick to claim recognition stakes in hit records, fingers immediately start pointing in regards to the guilty parties involved in records that are commercial failures. Artists will blame the label for not getting behind the project. Labels will either blame the artist for being too hard to work with or not being creative enough, internally blame specific departments or designate either the overseeing A&R executive or product manager the scapegoat. When a project fails, who should be held accountable?

"The record business is an art and not a science. When something goes wrong, it could be any number of things. It could be the record wasn't in the grooves, promotion team wasn't up to the task, video didn't match the strength of the music or outside circumstances such as other acts being out at that particular moment stealing the limelight. You can never be100 percent sure of what went wrong. The music business isn't a math equation where you have an equation and only one answer," remarked Larry Khan, Senior VP, R&B Promotion and Marketing, Jive Records. Music consumers are very fickle, which makes it increasingly important for labels to efficiently and effectively implement their marketing plans and respective budget allocations. By the same token, the most genius plan can only disguise the musical shortcomings for so long until the truth is revealed via word-of-mouth promotion and reviews in trade and consumer publications.

There are many controllable and uncontrollable variables involved in creating music that is qualitatively and quantitatively beneficial to the label, but if the business processes the label is built upon continue to produce erroneous results, simultaneously hindering the company's success*examination.

Software giant Oracle ( recently announced plans to unveil new applications targeting the media industry and intellectual property and rights management market. Within the Oracle E-Business Suite, the new applications will support the financial and legal aspects involved in the management of media assets and intellectual property, including marketing, selling, servicing, and billing customers as well as paying rights holders. "Over 50 percent of companies have to manage some type of intellectual property. The new functionality added to the Oracle E-Business Suite will allow companies to better control the entire lifecycle of their intellectual property," said Mark Barrenechea, Senior VP, Applications Development, Oracle.

In addition to fostering better departmental communication within labels, the end result would cause department heads to automate their operations and encourage more-educated decisions across the executive ranks within the company. Department heads would be required to input their respective project summaries into the system, recapping the various successes and failures associated with the department's activities. By doing so, when the time comes to setup the artist's next project, a more accurate plan can be devised to ensure success, potentially decreasing costs and increasing profit margins.

Source: Wendy Day
::Leonard's Notes:: David Leonard - JMA


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