What has the Digital Revolution Actually Done for Musicians?

by Guest Author on May 18, 2012

The music industry has changed significantly in the last decade alone. Gone are the days when you would enter a store and buy a brand new album. Now, you visit one online store and only buy the songs you like. The world sure has changed for musicians. What has the digital revolution done for musicians of the world? Let’s delve into that, shall we?

The biggest problem that musicians have to currently deal with is that of piracy. File sharing has become so common that it is almost impossible to control. Regardless of whether you are an artist from the old times or a new independent musician, the digital revolution has brought many changes to you and your industry.

Battle of the Labels

One of the biggest changes that have emerged is in the marketing of labels. Previously, record companies would hire scouts that would span their specific regions and look for talent. If sufficient, they show them multiple record deals and offer a large advance as a promotional offer. This was one of the only ways for a rising star to be recognized.

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However, the digital revolution changed the entire playing field. An independent label company does not have to work hard to be recognized. All they have to do is use the millions of connections available to them on social media sites. Additionally, they could use video sharing websites such as YouTube to earn fame.

For independent musicians, there is no greater time to launch their own label. Not only is it simpler than ever, it is more affordable than ever.

Reduced Expenses

Social media sites now reach a larger audience than traditional marketing methods do. A record label no longer has to spend millions of dollars in promotion and advertising. All they need to do is release a “teaser trailer” to attract the same audience. Furthermore, the audience on social media websites is specific rather than wide. This makes advertising and promotion more efficient than ever before.

For artists, this has absolutely no effect. This is because such expenses are related to the label company and not the artist.

Shift from CDs to Online Stores

CD sales have dropped by over 40% in the last decade alone. Although disturbing for the music industry, this fact shows how people have switched from CDs to digital downloads.

An increasing number of people are making the move to online stores such as iTunes. These stores offer cheap music downloads. You have probably heard of digital downloading software such as Napster that allowed you to share music on a global scale. However, the music industry defines it as piracy due to the free nature of the shared music.

After the digital revolution, you now have services such as iTunes, Spotify and many more. These digital libraries allow you to legally download songs that you like. Instead of the $25 album, you can now buy the only three songs you like from the album for less than $5. This is a huge saving, especially if you only intend to listen to 3 songs on the entire album. Although artists are still making millions of dollars, they are not making nearly as much as they could.

Streaming Services

Streaming services such as Spotify may be the only hope that the music industry has left. Spotify enables users to listen to their favorite songs but with limits. These limits appeal to both free users and paying users. Considering the numerous advantages that exist if you pay, more users are choosing to pay for their audio.

However, considering the price differences between an entire CD and listening to unlimited music, the former is suffering. However, streaming stores such as Spotify are alleviating the piracy problem. For an artist, companies such as Spotify give them an additional revenue stream.

Initially, the biggest revenue stream that artists had was CD sales. However, they now have multiple sources of revenue that are still able to make up for the loss of CD sales. The biggest problem thus becomes the war against piracy. It seems that the music industry is going to have to find a way to battle piracy if they want their sales to increase.

Eva Kempinsky represents the Broadband Expert Group, which compares Internet plans, as well as TV, phone and combined plans.

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