Thoughts About the Future of Music Business

Just in case you didn’t know, there is quite a shift happening today in the business of sharing music. Of course, the internet is to blame. Today it is being accused of devaluing music.

The whole thing started when we found out where we could download (pirate) our favorite music without paying a penny. Now Websites such as Pandora and Spotify stream music to you for free, so you don’t have to pay anything, and it’s perfectly legal because they pay the music publishers, songwriters and performers miniscule funds from their advertising profits ( How Much? ). The music industry doesn’t like it, but making some money is better than having their property stolen, so they made some licensing agreements and now you can stream your favorite music from anywhere internet exists without paying a penny.

Band leader of Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven, David Lowery is speaking out against these recent internet music business models because of the the low rate of return that artists receive from them. Look further into the artist’s side of this conflict and you will notice something - something that was quite striking for me. However obvious it might be, those disputing internet music sharing are those that fought for and won old school record deals. The once holy grail of the music world. I can understand their frustration. It isn’t fair.

In the past, record companies (and publishers of art in general) were what connected musicians with listeners. They chose, packaged and marketed you an artist or band and thus, had remarkable power over our tastes and our culture as a result. They all grew from the invention of the phonograph in 1877, and slowly they became the channel musicians turned to for success.

This is being replaced by the internet.

People will always need cultural icons like Beethoven, the Beatles and Lady Gaga, but the way we choose them has always been different. Unfortunately for David Lowery and the rest of the pre-internet music industry, nostalgia will always be in a losing battle with the next generation. I support their efforts to get compensated fairly for their work, and they should get as much of what is due to them as possible, but their business model is giving way to the demands of a consumer that wants unlimited, free access - the ability to sample everything and to even let it grow on them before buying or becoming a follower.

Is the internet devaluing the work of musicians and artists?

No it isn’t. I listen to Pandora when I do Website work and tune into the Electronic Music section. It comes to me free of charge courtesy of advertising dollars and it is how I was introduced to the artist Blackmill. Now I will share him with you (the Album Miracle) because that is how this new business model works. I share, you listen and perhaps you will become a follower / customer, a part of his tribe and purchase his music mp3’s as I have. It’s the first music that I have bought in a long time and I like it enough to buy the t-shirt.

The economic value of streaming music is very small. The value is from converting listener to a fan.

Try your luck and always look to the future with anticipation for success:

Submit your music: Pandora, Spotify, and Google Play are a few options, but there are more.

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