Madonna is leaving her label. After NIN and Radiohead deciding to leave their respective labels, is it possible that this counts as a genuine precedent? The RIAA member companies have remained entrenched in their position, suing their own customers and insisting on DRM that punishes only those who have not pirated their music. This is an interesting change in tide. We know that the internet makes transfer of information easier than ever before in human history. Music is information. All the labels have provided was marketing and distribution. If a band can perform it's own marketing and distribution online, then the labels become an anachronism. They are utterly superfluous to the transaction. It's an interesting thought, their ongoing struggle against digital music distribution may have just demonstrated to the world that they are no longer necessary at all.
They are superfluous and redundant in the grand scheme of the network. Of course, personally I doubt this will mean the death of the RIAA. My opinion is that this is the beginning of music distribution evolving into a new form, and the companies who cannot manage to evolve along with the industry are the ones that will wither and die. The present situation though, reminds me of an old rhyme that appeared in the masthead of the newsletter of a telegraph operator's union:
Is it not a feat sublime?
Information hath outrun time.
That quote is more than a hundred years old now.