I've commented before that the prospects for industries that treat their audience as their enemy are far from rosy. It isn't any secret that the essence of a successful business is meeting the actual needs of your customers rather than fighting against the tide. Hence the problems of TV networks still trying to force viewers into meaningless broadcast schedules; of game console manufacturers trying to pretend that the world isn't flat (FinancialMirror); of a music industry layering songs with DRM (USAToday) designed to prevent device-sharing but actually only driving customers away from the legitimate market.
But the problems for the music labels are even more severe than that - their enemies are not only their customers but also their suppliers. The latest from Mark Cuban has it that YouTube sold a stake to the major music labels in the way it did largely to prevent artists from taking a royalty stake. The claim is, as Mark admits, unverified - but as TechDirt comments "the pieces certainly fit together nicely" and indeed it all sounds horribly plausible.
Nick Carr suggests that if he was one of the musicians apparently shafted by Sony, Universal and Warner he'd be "asking somebody some questions". I think it goes much further than that. The interests of the music labels are simply opposed to the interests of both the creators and the consumers of music. They are treating both the audience and the artists as their enemy. We approach ever faster the model presciently adopted by the great Canadian band Barenaked Ladies of simply cutting ties with the label and controlling their own IP. The bands used to need the labels for marketing and distribution when marketing was about buying attention and distribution was about pressing millions of CDs. Now the labels are simply in the way of the bands and their audience. It is time for the bands to try something different.