Cary Sherman has a message for executives worried that tech giants like Google and Amazon are about to eat their lunch: Don’t beat yourself up. But don’t give up.
Sherman should know. As CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, Sherman lived through the industry’s darkest period as new technologies like Napster and internet sharing forever changed the rules of the game and decimated sales.
Now, nearly a decade after music sales reached their low point, the business is growing again; consumers are paying for streaming services and enjoying access to an unprecedented trove of music.
Altering what seemed to many like the inevitable course of history was no sure thing. Sherman and the record labels endured false starts, surprises and setbacks. They erred. The number of labels fell from five to three. They laid off hundreds of workers and alienated fans.
But for companies and industries now facing a similarly existential tech threat, Sherman’s experience offers some valuable lessons.