Free falling into the long tail

Today's Wall Street Journal describes the music business as being in "free fall" with album sales being down 18% in the first week of 2007 compared to the first week 2006. As the WSJ reports, EMI -- one of the big four music companies and the label that recorded the Beatles -- just fired its Chairman/CEO (Alain Levy) and Vice Chairman (David Mums). Things are so bad at the London music company that they've already issued a profit warning to investors.

The value of these guys? This is what music insider Bob Lefsetz says about Mums:

David Munns?  Ask Van Morrison about David Munns.  The notoriously difficult artist would ONLY speak to Munns.  At least that’s the way it used to be…  David Munns is a record man, positively old school, but the days of the record men are through.

It's not only the record men who are through. The whole industry might be finished too. Down 18% compared to last year! Is this Chris Anderson's idyllic long tail? Or is it one more catastrophic consequence of digital piracy ? And -- with EMI's inevitable acquisition by the equally troubled Warner Music Group -- are we now one step closer to the death of the professional recorded music industry?