A friend of mine drew my attention to this book (BLOCKBUSTERS Hit-making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment). My reading list is already way too long so I won’t get round to it for some time but the research is interesting.
The question it addresses is: should the entertainment industry bet bigger or smaller? The answer, with a lot of detailed examples, seems to be that blockbusters make bigger returns even taking into account big bets that fail.
To some extent this validates the longstanding (and to me baffling) record industry practice of signing 100 artists when only one will be successful.
(The rule of thumb always was that only one in ten signings release anything and one in ten of the releases make money. So, one in a hundred overall. In practice, post-2000, fewer artists get signed and fewer releases break even but the general principle remains.)
This also answers the question, if things carry on the same way, will the Internet fundamentally change how the music business mainstream works? Maybe not, after all.
If you have read it let me know what you think.