It may not be news to most people, but the music industry is faced with some tough challenges. This has been the case for more than a decade now. CD sales have been, obviously tumbling and internet piracy since the days of Napster have all but ruined the entire industry.
But many experts, including industry veteran Edgar Bronfman, believe the reality is a little different than most people believe. It comes down to perception, it seems. The live music industry is growing, according to him. It is the record business which is declining.Social media is playing an important role in boosting the music industry.
Many years ago, CDs and cassettes made up two-thirds of the income of a good or great artist. Record labels like MCA, Sony, Universal and RCA all controlled the market with a firm grip on profits and revenues. These were simpler times, with most people buying their CDs from the local store and calling into the local radio station to play their favourite track.
The companies were pouring in millions of dollars into the music videos to get some promotion on the TV channels and gain more sales worldwide. Now, the scenario has changed completely and the musicians are often left to pay for music videos out of their own pockets.
Record stores are also long gone now and we have CDs in the rare Starbucks or Barnes and Noble stores in the country.
The question has now shifted focus to streaming, which many consider to be the savior of the music industry.
There is Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and even smaller rival streaming services which are taking market share in the emerging economies like China and India. Unexpected companies like Snapchat are planning to get in on the action and launch their own streaming services too. Apple and Google are gaining steam in the music world as the revenues continue to rise, but everyone is not equally happy about this.
Artists like Taylor Swift have recently sounded off on the lack of proper compensation for artists who run their music on streams. She pulled her albums off Spotify and started selling them online herself. Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and Beyonce have all done something similar as the CDs and digital downloads are offered first, before the music is eventually put up on streaming services.
The way the industry has developed is, in many ways, the opposite of the radio adverts era, there are common myths of getting a job in the media. But streaming is a clear winner, regardless of how the artists feel about it now. Revenues have gone from nil in 2007 to a whopping $76.7 million in the year 2013 alone.
The issue of justified compensation remains, but the industry has realized that it need reinvention and it needs it quick.