3 Large Shifts in the Music Industry

In the past two decades, the music industry has experienced dramatic changes. Well, the pace of change in the music industry has not slowed, in fact, it has increased. Here are three major shifts that the music industry has experienced in the last five years that will continue to impact and shape how business is done in the music industry.


1. More music is available

Due to technological advances, more people are able to make music. This can be attributed to the increase in music recording software and equipment that is available to the average musician as well as the increase in the ability for people to learn music (i.e. taking skype music lessons or even learning music from a game computer program).  Because the ability to make music is in the hands of more people, more people are making music and putting it out there, from just posting on social media to using DIY distribution methods to get their music on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc… This increases the amount of competition there is for musicians. Now consumers can choose to purchase the album of their cousin’s rock band over that of their favorite rock star. To put things in perspective over the last five years there was an average of 75,000 records released each year. This is more than Tower record stores used to keep in their entire inventory.

2. Changes in music consumption: Music Streaming

Also due to technological advances, people are starting to stream music rather than purchase whole albums ( digitally or physically). It seems that consumers prefer to have (or purchase) access to the songs rather than owning a copy of the songs.  This has lead to an increase in the desire to create technology that figures out what music someone likes and then predict whether or not that person will like a different song. This type of technology is used by Spotify and Pandora to “recommend” songs, especially in the free versions of the service where the user cannot pick exact songs to listen to. This change not only makes music more like a utility like gas, water, or electricity, but it has made releasing singles obsolete; as each song on an album is a single. It also forces artists to deliver their best on the whole album, since users can choose which songs from the album to listen to.


3. Changes rights and royalties

Rights and royalties have become a popular topic in music news.  It seems like every week you hear about an artist being sued by another artist for some sort of copyright issue. Now a song is divided into many parts which can be copyrighted by different people who receive different amounts of royalty payouts depending on how the song is licensed. Songs used for TV and film can be taken apart and reassembled to fit the mood of the scene which is different from the dis and reassembly of songs used in dance mixes. Depending on how the song is altered and which parts are used for what, one or many people have rights to the song. Licensing a song has become more complex than it has been in the past.

So what does this mean for you? Well, hopefully, the first shift encourages you to put your music out there. If you’re an up and coming musician the second shift should encourage you, as the recommendations from the streaming services can put your music in front of people you may not have been able to reach before. While the third change may be scary, as long as you give credit where credit is due, you’ll be ok!

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