Sillerman Beats The Majors

Looks like Robert F.X. Sillerman still knows how to tick off a room.

At this year’s Billboard Music & Money Symposium, which took place March 3rd at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City, the CKX chairman and CEO declared, “The music industry distributors cling to a business model that not only doesn’t make sense, frighteningly, it’s not necessary,” Newsday reported.

Stopping short of announcing the death of major record labels, Sillerman reportedly added, “The myth of the major distributor muscle is going to end.

“Tomorrow’s creators won’t seek or need traditional label or radio support because they and their audience never wanted it or needed it for validation. If that next generation’s star – from a generation reared on the power of the Internet, peer reviews, downloads and online communities, etc. – wants to sell music, they may be able to do that without a traditional deal and they know it.

Newsday backed Sillerman’s words, suggesting that the majors may be on the outs, even though one recently bested an indie for top billing on Nielsen SoundScan. The example cited was the battle for dominance between Def Jam new artist Ne-Yo and Victory RecordsHawthorne Heights.

Def Jam won, but the victory may have been pyrrhic. The label followed the usual plan of attack, using its considerable muscle to push the new artist onto radio and video, spending lost of cash along the way.

“But almost no one talks about what is likely the biggest factor in the big opening week,” Newsday said. “The record company made it cheap. You could pick up Ne-Yo’s In Your Own Words at Target and other major retailers for as low as $7.98. At most record stores, it was selling for under $10.”

Meanwhile Hawthorne Heights landed at No. 3 (after a Disney TV soundtrack) but gained its 114,000 copies via Internet marketing and word of mouth. It looks like Sillerman is on a roll.

On its Web site, Victory Records rallied fans with an e-mail, saying, “Independent needs to beat Major tomorrow. If all of you take action we can create history. Your support means everything to us and is the most valuable thing that we have.

“You hear our voices every night. Now, we need to hear yours.”