Luke Blackall: These days the parties are more important than the awards ceremonies themselves

Man About Town: As usual, the big labels held their events with due competitiveness

The music business is in crisis, at least that's what we're told. No one's buying music anymore, with many of those listening paying nothing for it.

Those who actually do pay for their music will note that while it cost £3.99 to buy a CD single 15 years ago, it's now a mere 79p online.

Pity then, the poor pop stars who now have to tour harder and longer than ever to afford the private islands and robotic servants that they all aspire to. And pity more the not-stars who aren't getting deals at all.

But despite the dire reports and predictions for the industry, the spirits were high at the Brit Awards this week. After the drinking, dancing and "swearing at the suits" had been done, it was time to choose an after-party.

Sure, there's an official one, but if you want to gawp at the big acts of the day (and let's face it, that's the reason most people are at these things), you have to head to one of the record companies' parties.

As usual, the big labels held their events with due competitiveness, all vying to show off their biggest artists, and desperately hoping that they'll arriving clutching statuettes.

Some hacks try to fit as many in as possible. I know this because I used the window between 10.30pm and 3.30am to visit three of the big four.

The Universal party, traditionally seen as the hottest invite of the night, took over the cavernous main hall of the Tate Modern with a party co-hosted by members' club, Soho House and frequented by the likes of will.i.am and Florence Welch, who danced together in the DJ booth. Elsewhere, Noel Gallagher and Damon Albarn hugged on the boat that EMI had hired for its party, and then went off to meet footballer Cesc Fabregas by the Puma photobooth (these seem to be everywhere, there to help people piece together their memories the next morning).

At Sony's party, pop foetuses One Direction celebrated their gong, while Gallagher was back again being chased into a lift by so many friends that it didn't work. Even the calm, karmic and camera-shy Chris Martin was spotted by the bar.

The labels know that as with tomorrow's Oscars, the partying is as important, if not more, than the actual awards ceremony. In the world of newspapers it gets its own day of coverage and it is like an "open day" for the artists as they fulfil expectations by partying like rock stars. But crucially, it allows the companies to pretend that it's business as normal at the factories of pop.

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