Cuneiform Records to consider future after fall in sales

The Cuneiform Records logo

Cuneiform Records have announced that founder Steve Feigenbaum will take a year’s sabbatical to “determine what direction the label could or should take to be viable again in the future.”

The label, like many others, has seen a decline in CD, LP and digital sales in recent times, due to the rise in music streaming – and they say that 2018 will be a year to “rethink, retool and evolve the label” as it is “no longer feasible for us to run a record label in the same manner as we have for the past 35 years.”

A statement from the label reports that Feigenbaum will continue to maintain Cuneiform’s catalogue and oversee other responsibilities, but that the label, who released an average of 15 albums a year over the past three decades, have no new releases scheduled.

A statement from the label reads: “The digital revolution changed everything for everyone in the music industry. When Cuneiform began, its international business was conducted by mail or phone, and later, fax.

“When the internet arrived, we became ‘early adopters,’ embracing it as our ideal ‘dream’ tool for international commerce. But there was also a downside – digital theft.

“When digital theft began taking a toll on physical sales around 2009, we had to adapt to survive. We began releasing music in electronic format in addition to traditional physical ones, making it available for sale on a variety of digital platforms, and we embraced new media, expanding promotion to internet radio, online press and social media.”

Cuneiform say that as sales of recorded music in all formats have declined, “it’s become increasingly difficult to finance the release of new high-quality musical content.”

The statement adds: “A glut of free music on the internet and nearly free music on streaming platforms has devalued music.

“Surrounded/drowning in free music that’s ‘good enough’ for casual entertainment, there is little incentive to purchase music. This unsound climate endangers the future of professional music.

“Music that sustains deep listening costs money to create, record, release, distribute and promote. In 2018, Steve will explore how Cuneiform could further evolve to continue releasing music of substance.”

Cuneiform will remain in its current offices in Silver Spring, Maryland but as a result of the changes, the label’s Department of Publicity & Promotion will be dissolved at the end of January due to in-house production costs.

The statement concludes: “In 2018, Cuneiform Records remains a precious resource for musicians, for fans, and for cutting-edge music itself. Steve Feigenbaum welcomes your encouragement and support as he resets Cuneiform for the future.”

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Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.