In an age of constant technological advancements, the music industry is just one of those industries affected, but it’s perhaps the one that has sparked the most anger and debate as to the future impacts and consequences for all those that are actually concerned. With the IFPI and RIAA releasing 2013 music sales figures showing a 3.9% drop in total sales, going against a trend of 2012, the ever-growing concern for independents, as well as major record labels, is becoming even more of a reality day by day. A mere 4.3% growth in digital sales is not enough to counterbalance these falls, suggesting there is a struggle to keep up with these tech trends.
We all now have a good idea that the term “iPod Generation” has lived up to, if not, beyond it’s expectations, with the CD almost becoming redundant, as seen with the very close escape of HMV from closing all of it’s doors, but the main issue now, for labels, is how do you compete with consumers simply using sites such as clip converter to download YoutTube audios and directly import them into your iTunes library? Don’t pretend you haven’t. You can’t deny that major labels have the power to turn the small fire you have managed to kindle, as an artist, via social media and local performances, into a roaring inferno of huge following numbers and endorsements, but can they kindle that fire in the beginning? Seemingly, the answer is no, and it’s getting even windier for these majors, with the rise in dependency (and lets face it, increasing ease) on platforms such as YouTube for an artist to build their own brand from scratch. So how do they get back to the powerhouses they once were?
A prediction, that has unquestionably become a main contender for the industries’ revival, is Streaming. Subscriptions to streaming services such as Spotify now account for 27% of Digital Revenue for music sales, and it wouldn’t be so surprising, if within a decade or two, it is the primary consumption method of all music, period. In a similar way we pay for a TV license, we’ll be paying for a music license/subscription. As such a trend thickens over time, majors will be adjusted and come up with new and creative ways to capitalize from it, establishing sophisticated business models and collaborating with these streaming services. We’ve even seen this with artists themselves, albeit Jay Z, the biggest Hip Hop mogul of all, collaborating with Samsung on the release of MCHG, proving that the industry really is in a regressive state, with a needless minority having the power to sweep up 99% of cash available.
But what does this mean for artists? Undoubtedly, online platforms make it easier than ever to be discovered by the A&R scout that could make your dreams a reality, Bieber was discovered on YouTube (no matter your opinion, he’s moved some albums) but at the same time, online platforms make it easier for ANYONE, to upload ANYTHING (*ahem* Rebecca Black *ahem*), creating more and more noise that gets in the way of real artists and opportunity. It has now become, “how many followers do you have on your music page?” as opposed to “how many people turn up to your show?” Although, the prominence of live events for the survival of the overall music business is more evident than ever, hence the focus placed on live event promotion and theatrical ‘Kanye West Style’ shows. Of course there is importance in your online presence as, if signed, labels will be utilizing it to the fullest to enhance and create marketing schemes, but at the end of the day, a Facebook ‘Like’ is a Facebook ‘Like’, in no way will it guarantee anyone buying your latest EP. Unfortunately, it’s arguably heading towards the choice for many artists, “Do you want to keep it real, grass-roots level and be happy with your following?” or “Are you willing to be strategic and let someone else take control of your direction?” Not to take away anything from artists whom have managed to ‘keep it real’ whilst maintain commercial success, and there are quite a few of them.
Perhaps making the best music you are able to possibly create, pouring your soul into it, is the best way around the whole music industry fiasco. That way, you are able to “do you”, and if it’s good, it’s easy to get picked up or stir up your own presence, you never know where passion can take you. However you see it, you can guarantee that NUBI Music will be bringing you the best of music, from the best of local talent, in the best ways.