How the Music Industry Has Changed Over the Past 2 Decades
As with everything in life, things can change drastically over time, both for the better and for the worse. Today’s music industry is unlike any we’ve seen, and, in my humble opinion, I’d say it’s certainly for the better. The focus in the industry today is more about the individual artists and their music, producing quality music that is made with fans in mind. While the iconic music of the past will always be a part of our souls, the model of the industry today helps us look at music less like a commodity and more like the work of art it truly is.
It’s not all about sales
What determines your success in the music industry is no longer about how many CDs you sell, as it was 20 years ago. Today, success is determined more by how many people listen to your music rather than how much money you make off it. I remember the shock in 2007 when Radiohead released their seventh album, In Rainbows, as a “pay as you want” download. It was a critical move in the music industry, and while today, it may not seem weird for musicians to allow us to stream their music for free, it was unheard of at the time to give away a “product” on which the band worked tirelessly for little to no cost. This album ended up charting high on the Billboard chart and made more money in sales than their previous physical release. This “experiment” showed us that success can come most of all in today’s industry when musicians want to share their passions more than they want to make loads of cash.
You can stay independent
It used to be that every band or artist who wanted to “make it” in the industry had to get signed to a label. That was the moment when you really became a success. Now, it’s incredibly possible to reach a large audience without the help of a mainstream company distributing your music, even if you’re not an already established artist like Radiohead. Taking out the middleman not only saves artist money but gives the musicians more creative control. You no longer have to sell your soul to a label to get your music noticed. With crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe, PledgeMusic and Kickstarter, you can gather a series of small donations from your fanbase to fund your recording sessions, tours, and other costs that come up, without relying on big companies that control what you do with their money. And with the access we have to the internet and social media today, it is fairly simple for artists to market themselves to their fans online and get information about their new music and tours out there to the public. This goes for all types of performers. No longer do DJs, dancers, magicians, and impersonators for hire need to resort to hiring expensive agents to market themselves and get them gigs. Technology allows us the freedom to do the legwork ourselves, and easily.
Quality comes at a low cost to musicians
In the past, you needed a lot of high-tech, expensive equipment to make quality music recordings. The editing process was also expensive and most likely had to be outsourced to a professional. Now, anyone can create a high-quality-sounding track with a tight budget due to the advances in technology we’ve experienced in the last 20 years. Armed with only a laptop, musicians have the ability to make beautiful music and edit it to perfection, then push it out to the masses.
*This post is in partnership through Intellifluence.