Nick Rhodes, founding and current member of Duran Duran, has been in the music business for over 30 years. In a 2008 interview, he speaks of the death of major labels, the benefits of technology, and the faults of the music industry.
Technology is beneficial all around, particularly the Internet for music. It has been quite spectacular. Obviously, we’ve seen the downfall of the music business as we knew it. I can’t say that I’ll be sad to see the end of the major labels. I think it will actually be a real exciting time for both really new young acts and for established acts to reinvent themselves and do something new with the Internet.
. . .They used to nurture bands and actually helped develop their careers. But they became very lazy in the ’90s I think they lost focus completely. They didn’t know what to do with the advent of the Internet. They panicked. They tried to destroy downloading. They spent a lot of time hammering away at Napster when in fact what they should have been doing is saying, “Hey, this is such fantastic technology you have here. How can we make this work together?” I think they were incredibly shortsighted and foolish about everything. So I’m far from surprised at this place we find ourselves in now.
It’s very different now. I think established artists make a lot more from touring than from recording. Having said what I just said, I wish that we could find a sensible solution to prevent illegal downloading. Clearly it’s such an epidemic, a pandemic. But it would be very, very hard to stop it at this stage. But I still believe it is plain simple theft. There’s no doubt about it. Those songwriters, producers, performers, whoever it is, have all worked to create this piece of music and what people are now saying is, “We don’t really care about that. We want it free.” It’s tantamount to walking into a grocery store and filling your bag up with fruit and vegetables and whatever else you want and just walking out.
It is very complex and it will be very hard to solve because people now are so used to getting a lot of things free. ITunes is now the world’s biggest distributor of music, which is a good thing, I think. But they pretty much have a monopoly at the moment, which is not such a good thing. It is a tricky situation. It will be interesting to see what happens with the MySpace venture with the major labels. But there will always be something new happening with technology, something that surprises everybody, something that comes from a different place where people have thought things out and it will catch on.