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With the rise of social networking and direct to fan advertising, most people seem to think so. But former EMI CEO Tony Wadsworth at an address at the Great Escape Conference seems to think the opposite:
"Record labels are unrecognisable compared to the 90s," he said. "They are smaller, more efficient and they have diversified and taken on many more functions."
Although there were an increasing number of ways for artists to release music without record labels – in recent years bands from McFly to Public Enemy have gone down the DIY route – this often worked only for established artists with years of record-label support behind them, said Wadsworth.
Prince, who has released albums through newspapers, and Simply Red, who released their last album exclusively through Tesco, had some success. But former Girls Aloud star Nadine Coyle, who also relased her debut solo single through Tesco, sold only 117 CD copies on its first day in the charts. "People outside the music industry think you can invest in music and cut out the record label," he said. "But investment without skills rings pretty hollow, record labels still give artists the skills and contacts they need."