The music industry is changing. That’s not really news. People have been reading, hearing and debating about the situation of the music sales and the whole music market changes for the last years. The industry saw it coming, but nobody knows where it’s going.
Music is a form of art that people love. Why would people stop consuming music, if they love it so much? Well, they don’t. People consume and produce more music every day. It’s now easier than ever before to produce a music product ’cause it’s affordable to do so. Basically (almost) anyone can write, record, produce and publish their own song or album. There are loads of different ways to consume, buy or publish music. That’s for sure, it’s not only the physical records, that will drive the industry anymore (if you look at the big picture).
The world has become digital. And so has the music. “In the old days sounds were warm, beautiful waves, but now they are just cold bites and codes in the space.” That’s a typical comment from an analog lover. I can understand the idea behind the comment. Analog sound surely sounds different than digital audio. That’s why people are concentrating more and more to the format of the music product they’ll buy. In the same time when the CD sales are going down (about 50% during the last decade), the LP and (of course) the digital sales are increasing. Many of the artists often publish vinyl versions (not CD’s) of their albums and singles for the people to play with their turntables.
Now, I’ll get to the point of the digital distribution. That’s the cheapest and probably the easiest way to get the musical piece out. It’s not a big surprise, that nowadays many of the albums are published only to the digital distribution channels. Some people still think, that the digital distribution somehow equals to “free music”. That idea was revolutionary for the music markets to figure. Instead of purchasing one single song or a whole digital album, a consumer can now stream his/her favorite tracks from thousands and thousands of songs in almost everywhere with all of his/her (mobile) devices (such as smart phones, iPads, laptops, etc) by paying a monthly fee… and there are digital music channels also available for free (with certain limitations).
The conclusion: people do still consume music, but they now have much more wider range of formats and distribution channels to choose from; there are local record stores for the “record junkies”, live shows where artists have their merchandise for sale, many internet record stores which sell all kinds of psychical formats of an album, the digital album stores (such as iTunes) for an individual song or album purchase, or the streaming channels (such as Spotify and Deezer) to listen (or buy) a song or an album. People can even mix music with video and get the whole audio visual experience (f.ex. YouTube).
Is the piracy still “the big bad wolf” for the future of the music industry? I personally think, that it’s way easier to legally listen to music nowadays, than download some tracks from illegal channels. It’s not worth the effort. On the other hand, I must admit that I am a music lover myself and I consume music in the old fashioned way, buy going to the record store, buying a record, placing it in my record player and enjoying the best form of art.
Here is an audio link for more in-depth information on Economics, Consumer Psychology and Music. The audio is recorded by the SXSW Music 2013 (an industry festival & conference held in Austin, Texas). Enjoy!