A letter from an artists management agency in Los Angeles provides an accurate diagnosis:
Like many of even the best young musicians today, ‘x’ and ‘y’ are caught between eras in the music recording industry. Corporations like EMI and Sony will not offer them contracts… Gone is the time when music labels felt responsible to support and present the next generation of musical masters.
Without a doubt, concert artists need high-quality commercial recordings available in lobbies or music stores associated with their concert halls. Audiences expect to see professionally produced albums of these artists and they expect the artists to greet them and sign albums. Self-produced albums from the same musicians do not have the same effect. They sometimes make the artists look more amateur.
So what to do? This particular agency, Yarlung Artists, has launched its own label as a stop-gap. Other artists and orchestras deliver performances for free to cottage labels in the hope of gaining the oxygen of general distribution. Others still huddle their own-label efforts under such discreet and helpful umbrellas as Avie Records.
Few of these enterprises make it to front of store where the decrepit major labels use muscle and money to obtain prime position for crossover signings. Entering a record store these days is a dispiriting experience.
What is to be done? I guess the small and self producers need to agglomerate in some way, buy themselves some time with a good PR and start acting like they believe in the product.
Any better ideas?