After a huge decline in CD sales partially due to illegal music downloads, musicians have released far fewer "records." Record companies and artists have been forced to start looking at marketing single-song downloads rather than put their efforts and money into recording and packaging CDs.
After legal battles with the record industry, Napster and Rhapsody became leaders in the single-song download model, followed by the likes of Apple's iTunes.
In 2007 Madonna signed a "360" deal with Live Nation, giving the young company exclusive rights to her all of her music-related ventures for one hefty lump sum. It wasn't long before other acts followed, including Shakira and U2, causing record company executives to stand up and take notice.
Now a potential merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster could create a monster operation that could draw artists away from their labels, leaving the record labels holding their empty pockets in their hands.
The face of music is continuing to change, with more and more bands selling their CDs from their personal websites and social network sites like MySpace launching new careers in the music business every day. With such a wide variety of marketing possibilities, the playing field is becoming more level every day, and the record giants are no longer in control.