The word(s) of the day

Today’s lesson will be taken from the Book of Public Relations, Chapter 5: Putting on a Happy Face. Some key terms you’ll want to know. First, “realignment” (and synonyms like “diversification”). This is what usually happens when businesses get rid of some staff and redistribute workload among existing employs as a way to deal with stagnant revenue streams. Kissing cousin to the “realignment” is the “reorganization” or “restructuring,” terms that are usually meant to imply expansion or growth despite the reality that business won’t support adding actual human beings to the company. And lately there seems to be a lot of realigning and reorganizing and restructuring and general reshuffling going on in sg. Consider: Spring Hill realigns, Becky Simmons Agency diversifies into management and publishing, April Potter Agency folds and Potter moves on to “creative consulting,” Crossroads consolidates its offices, Cathedral Records shutters its office and moves to Todd Payne’s house, SouthernSpin Entertainment reorganizes into four divisions under one corporate conglomerate … but only employs the same two employee-owners as ever. Where this “re”-orgy leads, I don’t really know. But these seem to me like classic indications of an industry contraction. As one smart reader said to me the other day, the pie in sg is shrinking and many of these changes seem to be symptomatic of that shrinkage. For the moment, there’s no reason to think Spring Hill and Daywind won’t remain the premiere sg labels (even though DW has said goodbye to some of its most talented folks in the last few months), but what that will mean for an industry in which sales are down across the board and continue to decline (except for Gaither) isn’t entirely clear. No matter how many upper echelon groups on a label, if this sales slump goes on unabated there’s got to be a point where these labels’ principle owners, investors or parent corporations say that’s it. Enough. Top-tier artists historically migrate to where the action (read “money”) is. But right now, the real, big money is … you guessed it … Gaither. That’s good news for Gaither and fans of his, of course, but it’s bad news for the industry, since even if Gaither were inclined to let them, there’d be no way sg’s major groups could all suck at Gaither’s teat. If that’s a startling image, it may be because you’ve grown too accustomed to the happy-talk of an industry desperately trying to act like everything’s just peachy … look … we’re reorganizing, restructuring, realigning … it’ll be fiiiiine.*Clarification: As Chris Unthank makes clear (for the first time I’ve ever seen anywhere), SSE evidently employs more than him and his sister. However, my original point still stands: despite the “fast” growth that purportedly warranted the restructuring of SSE, no new hires were announced to support the addition of several new divisions.

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