Far from musics glory days in the 90's, we now live in a piracy filled, devalued, and subpar music era. Sounds a little harsh, but the reality is music isn't what it once was - both finicially and in terms of quality. While some may be able to argue that music is better than ever in terms of quality, no one can deny the diminishing market for album, and single sales. The main culprit contributing to this fast pace declining music world is "Al Gore's" internet. Blame Al Gore! Ok, that is a joke, but the internet is hands down the number one reason why music has plummeted into an abyss of Justin Beiber ring tones.
Since the internet, people have wanted things faster, easier, and all of the sudden cheaper. You may be raising your eyebrows and asking, why cheaper? Well, that's a very good question, and there really isn't a one size fits all answer. The basic answer I would give is to tell people that the internet equals, not necessarily cheaper advertisements, but a better medium to reach your target audience. When it comes to music, a CD that was once purchased for $15 after creation, production, mixing, packaging, shipping, and finally retail markup, doesn't really equate in today's standards. If music can simply be sent via, the internet, you are essentially taking out the last three, most expensive steps. When it's laid out on the table like that it is easy to see why people would want music just a little bit cheaper. Production costs have even gone down with the advancement of technology and software programs like Pro Tools. There is also a bigger problem lurking around.
Pirates have been a huge problem stealing, disobeying the law, and outrunning authorities. Music piracy is also something that the authorities are not to fond of. To ignore piracy in the music industry is a mistake. The reality is that most people have at least one song that they downloaded from Kazaa, Limewire, or even as torrents. While the internet certainly has some advantages for the the music industry, the existence of piracy certainly trumps all of them. Services like Spotify that stream songs and with an essentially pay per click approach have emerged as a "solution." However, it seems as though that they are just another problem. There seems to be more talk about them low-balling the artists, and labels dropping, than the service itself. I think Lady Gaga got somewhere around $167 dollars for a couple million plays. It is almost laughable. Good try Spotify, but that kind of business model will never last. Don't get me wrong the service Spotify provides is a good one, but if they upped their price to say, 30$ a month to cover the costs they are racking up, would you pay? I bet most would not.
There is a few ways that the music industry could look. One option they may have is investing in the the manpower that it would take to enforce anti-piracy laws. This may seem far fetched, but with enough money a lot can be done. Look at Magic Johnson! Matter of fact, look at all of the poker websites that were shut down. All I am saying is that the mysterious, complex world of piracy that is put so high on a pedestal for its elusive nature, could be brought down with the right kind of investment. The other alternative the music industry could invest in, is better music. Ironically enough the second option seems a little more far fetched. Lets face it, music sucks these days. When was the last time you went to a great show, or heard a great album? Sure some of you will say I saw this band the other night and they were the greatest things since sliced bread. But look at the big picture. Try to image Lil Wayne and Justin Beiber going down with the greats like Zeppelin and the Beatles. It will never happen. So before everyone lists their favorite band, save it. Look at the big picture first.
The music industry is in a slump. Music revenue isn't what it once was, and neither is the talent. Quite frankly I wouldn't pay for 99% of the stuff that gets put out there. There has to be a breaking point. Sooner or later someone or something will take a turn for the better. Hopefully the distribution model services like Spotify tried to capitalize on, will be expanded to a more sustainable level. Hopefully people start investing in music themselves, simply by buying artists albums. Why not reward the talents that give you your feel good music - whatever genre that may be. Thoughts?
This article was written by Thomas Rudy. Thomas helps run things over at Pro Tools Tutorial.