Here's my guess. No. They'll be pointless as Radiohead's In Rainbows will demonstrate, but they'll still exist, at least until all the legacy acts that literally need them die off. Especially since they're just high interest banks anyway. Oh but wait, at least you can put money in a bank and it'll give YOU interest.
I bet you're thinking, "oh no.. I don't want to hear that..oh Stephen Matthew, you're ruining my dreams of a label coming down from the heavens on a golden chariot and sweeping me off my feet to live happily ever after!" Maybe if you're a shitty band like the ones they sign now, that juuuuuuuuuuuuuuust might happen if you're super lucky, know the "right" people, and if you spew the appropriate combination of shittyness and flavor of the week looks.
Or, you could do it yourself, take matters in your OWN hands, and make all the money, just like Scarface.
Seriously what do we need them for anymore? 1. An advance? 2. Marketing? 3. Distribution? 4. Maybe publishing if you write that kind of material- otherwise I consider song placement to be marketing.
Okay 1- you only need the advance to cover all the expenses of all the other overpriced shit they do. With 290482094 studios per square mile, you can do it for far less than their BIG advance can. 2- Most bigger $ marketing is placement and co-branding. Dont' worry about that. Hit the real media for credible stories. Once you're big enough, call Regis and Conan. Then call Leno and Letterman. Or hire a PR firm! 3- I give CDs at most five years, but the prime target demo, about two. #4 Contact music supervisors, sign up for a music placement service or get into a publisher. And there you have it, kids.