I read an interesting piece in the New York Post - yes, that is still possible - on how a major label is now relying on an indepdendent label to work its urban records at radio. On the one hand, it shows how a major label such as Epic can't even cover basic functions like radio promotion with its own staff. But, on the other hand, it shows how indie labels or consulatants can truly provide value in a market of niches. Now, radio promotion is a core function for a record company. Major labels have employed independent promoters for decades to help get their records played.
But I get the sense that the major labels will be doing more and more outsourcing of key services to outside companies: licensing, special markets (let me raise my hand and volunteer my services right now!), catalog management, copyright administration, etc... Why? Because these areas, using the faulty logic of Wall Street, are probably deemed as being too head count heavy, even though these are crucial elements to any major label's operations. That's how Wall Street works. That's how private equity works. They see numbers on a page and think "cut overhead" as a knee-jerk reaction to boost share price. Do these labels really need to outsource the functions I mentioned above? Probably not, but if there are further staff cuts, then those labels won't be able to service certain customers with as much attention as they deserve.
Welcome to the music industry in the 21st Century.