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Major Record Label Research project. SONY
Ownership Sony Corporation (Electronics/ Hardware) -Sony Electronics, Sony Optiarc, S-LCD (50% minus 1 share with Samsung Electronics), Sony Creative Software Sony Pictures Entertainment, (Movies) -Columbia Pictures, Tristar Pictures, Sony Pictures Television, Syco TV/Film, Metro Goldwin Mayer (20%) Sony Pictures Imageworks, Sony Pictures Animation, Sony pictures Home Entertainment. Sony Music Entertainment, (Music) -Sony ATV Music Publishing (50% shared with the Michael Jackson Family Trust), Columbia/Epic Label Group, Syco Music, RED Distribution, Sony Masterworks, Provident Label Group. Gracenote, RCA Records Sony Computer Entertainment (Video games) -Sony Online Entertainment, Cellius (51% owned, shared with Namco Bandai) Naughty Dog, Evolution studios, Bigbig Studios, Sony Financial Holdings (Finance services 60% owned) -Sony Bank( a Japanese online bank), Sony Life insurance
The Sony Corporation is very large and based in Tokyo, Japan, It started as a hardware company that made electronic devices, It has several main branches covering Music, Film, Games, Finance and of course electronic hardware. I’ve mapped out some of the subsidiaries above, I tried to include the most varied an relevant ones. Sony is well spread across many different forms of media. For example Sony creative Software designs video and audio editing software- this can be sold onto other companies, or even used by Sony itself to minimise production cost. Sony Demonstrates both forward and backwards vertical integration by owning companies such as Sony Optiarc which makes Optical Disc drives, this technology is relevant for other electronic devices made by Sony, It also owns RED Distribution a company which distributes music for independent record labels, Owning this is an advantage as not only can it offer distribution services to artists on Sony owned labels if required but also as a distributor for other labels not owned by Sony but still make profit. . Also owning part of Sony ATV Publishing makes it easy for Sony to publish any music made on any of the many record labels it owns. This is also relevant to other parts of Sony, for example Sony Pictures entertainment has the subsidiaries Sony Pictures Imageworks and Animation 2 companies which can be used without extra cost by Sony for releases by (for example) Columbia Pictures. A look into the history of Sony reveals it tends to vertically integrate companies gradually- tending to start off as a joint venture, allowing for instant benefits and profit, before they buy out their partners share several years later when it can afford to allowing Sony to take full advantage of the company and take all the profit.
Production <ul><li>Sony electronics has been one of the foremost producers of new media technologies over the last 40 years, bringing into existence the 3 and half inch floppy disc, the compact disc (working together with Phillips, invented the Discman . They have made even greater advances in recent years with new media technologies bringing into the market blu-ray discs and players, and although they had some inventions that did not become the market standard, for example Betamax, they are constantly creating new media technologies that allows improved playback of music. </li></ul><ul><li>However in recent years a lot more has started to happen online, for example most songs are made available to buy and download off of iTunes, this method of releasing music is very cost effective allowing them to release far more of artists back catalogues without having to add cost of producing and distributing physical CDs. </li></ul><ul><li>Sony Ericison were the first company to develop music focused mobiles with their Walkman series of phones, This revolutionised the market creating a new area of focus for mobile phone companies, the idea being to replace mp3 players by having as good as features on a phone removing the need to carry two devices this had strong potential and helped the company, however other phone companies have now surpassed Sony’s products with there being many more music focused phones now and also the release of ‘Smart phones’ predominantly the Apple iPhone now dominate the market. It is worth mentioning despite the fact the company is not doing as well as it was a couple years ago there is now a huge market for music over mobiles phones, this has been taken a step further on the iPhone for example there is a Spotify App that allows you to freely stream music, this is relevant to Sony as they have Tracks on Spotify and it is making them some money, however many artist have started to complain it is not generating them very much money whatsoever and want to remove their content from the site. </li></ul><ul><li>The way record companies find artists has changed, as no longer must all bands be found by talent scouts going to small gigs all across the country, now they can scout them out on the internet as most musicians have created a MySpace. This also allows the record label to see if the band has created a following for themselves and if signing them would be effective as they already have a large fan base and less money would need to be spent on marketing the band. </li></ul>
Marketing <ul><li>Sony Music entertainment has a channel on YouTube, this has a huge collection of music videos on including ones from Sony’s back catalogue, by artists that are no longer with any of it’s labels, for example ‘Wheatus’. It also features some interviews with artists on it’s labels, for example currently featured is The experience with Marvin Sapp which is over 2 hours long. these serve as promotional material increasing interest in their artists as well as providing inside information for existing fans who want more information- this information can serve as a talking point for the audience to socialise (uses and gratifications theory). </li></ul><ul><li>Shown on the next slide is the Sony music entertainment website, which features news, new albums, upcoming albums and upcoming gigs from all it’s artists, with links to find more information. </li></ul><ul><li>I have also included images from the ‘Scouting for girls’ MySpace page which includes complete live listings, some music videos, sample tracks, as well as several advert banners advertising the band and their releases. They also have other videos, called Scouting for Girls TV this is an example of something that has become increasingly common, bands making web series that are available to watch free on their MySpace, generally being comedy centred. This is mainly aimed at fans however could easily get new audience members interested in the band if they like the show they are more likely to listen to the music, however being much more well known for music I believe it is unlikely many people discover bands from non music related sources. </li></ul><ul><li>Labels will try to get as much advertising as possible out for their artists new releases, this is done by releasing single before an album release, as well as music videos, this gets radio plays and increases demand for the new release. By being on the radio it is likely radio stations will have artists who’s songs they are currently playing-normally meaning they have an album coming out if their new material is being played on the radio. This serves as good advertising and self promotion of the artist. They may also make appearances on TV in music based programmes for the same reasons. I have included two links one to a show about Beyonce on MTV which promotes her as an artist and another to a radio interview with Scouting for girls, these are both artists with Sony Music Entertainment. </li></ul>
Below: Sony music entertainment website homepage. Above: Scouting for girls MySpace, this is a typical example of a MySpace for a band signed to a major label (highly decorated covered with adverts and with a blog for the band)
Distribution and Exchange CD’s are distributed by a distribution company, Sony owns one called RED Distribution, which also distributes a lot of independent labels records. They send the CD’s out to shops such as HMV, which then sells them to the public. They also distribute the songs online, this works in one of two ways, either making the songs available to stream directly off the internet-this is usually free, or allowing people to buy the song and download it which is most commonly done through iTunes. Online distribution is effective as it does not cost a record much to put songs up for download, and in the case of a major record label they can afford to pay for bandwidth, so they can allow a much wider library of music online as they do not have to pay for physical packaging and distribution, also by doing this they directly reach their audience rather than going through a high street distributor. Currently Sony have several artists in the album sales chart for example: Scouting for girls (Everybody wants to be on TV) -26,000 Susan Boyle (I dreamed a dream) 26,000 MGMT (Congratulations) 54,000 The Glee Cast (The Power of Madonna) 110,000 These artist are spread throughout the UK top 40 chart and they are also in the download chart however not in the same positions-notably Scouting for girls is number 5 in the top ten UK download chart, whereas in the album charts it is number 37.