Few industries are as fragmented and difficult to define as the music industry.
From independent musicians and recording studios to major labels and established music venues, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of elements that make up the industry as a whole – and they’re not always connected or integrated in any discernible way.
But if you have a passion for music and are determined to build your own music business or become a part of the industry at some level, here are seven things you should know about the state of the music business.
1. Most musicians are new to new technologies. Whether it’s the latest social network or crowdfunding platform, musicians are often the first to take new tools for a test drive, and some find success that way. For example, independent musician Daria Musk found traction in Google Hangouts.
2. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to success. This is especially true for things as personal and subjective as music.
3. Technology is changing the way studios operate. LANDR is an online tool that automatically processes recorded music – and the results are reportedly pretty good. Advances in technology continue to reduce the need for traditional, high-budget recording studios, and the production process is increasingly automated. Home recording equipment is also affordable and of good quality.
4. Blockchain could be the future of the industry. The technology behind popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is known as blockchain, and could offer more music companies and musicians the ability to monetize their work without third parties taking a bigger piece of the pie. But the current structure of the industry prevents this from moving forward.
5. This is the only branch with Payola. It is illegal for radio stations to play music on the air in exchange for money, unless they show it as “sponsored airtime”. Unfortunately, the corruption continues and the mainstream airwaves are dominated by top 40 music representing an extremely popular minority. If you thought the Arctic Monkeys were “independent”, you’re not even close to the independent majority.
6. Music streaming is an emerging market. And we will continue to see innovation and new developments in this area. There may be dozens of streaming sites right now, but that number will likely grow to hundreds, maybe even thousands.
7. Human beings cannot be cornered. As it turned out, machines are able to create beautiful, emotional music, which was considered impossible for a long time. Will it change the way music is made? Will it make musicians obsolete? It’s hard to say.