Our economy is constantly changing and the music industry along with it. From my own personal consumer experience and growing up in the age of the internet, I can tell you that I am one of those people who directly contributed to the failure of the music industry. I was one of those people who download massive amounts of music off of services like Limewire and Bittorrent. Even as laws slowly caught up with the changes in technology, I too changed. I went from downloading music to streaming it online. For the most part, I have stopped paying for albums unless I love them.
As I started doing my own research into the music industry, I found that the only real victims were the artists themselves. They essentially had to sell everything they made to their record labels in order to give them the exposure they needed to make it big. Some record labels went as far as a sue the artists under them when their records didn’t perform to their impossible standards in the failing music industry.
A few years back, I used a service called Grooveshark, which did not help the artists in the music industry at all. These days, I have a subscription for Spotify which at least give some royalties to the artist every time you play a song of theirs. I use this streaming service to listen to music and when I find a record that I love, I will go out of my way to buy the vinyl of it, go to concerts, and purchase band merchandise. This is how I show my support of the artist. Fun fact, vinyl record sales outperformed CD sales the last three years in a row.
I am not every fond of the big three record labels. While I understand that they need to make money in order to keep the artists producing music, I cannot abide by their business practices. Have you ever seen a recording contract? They are almost as big as the Canadian criminal code! You need to be a lawyer in order to read them. I have my own limited experience with contracts since I work for Disney but these recording contract make my little paper work look like a parent permission slip for a field trip.
When I was thinking of going into the music industry a few years back, I made sure to get a feel for what I would be getting myself into. I researched all the different methods of recording, songwriting, and production before figuring out that I didn’t have the passion it took to get off my butt. I did record one song that I co-wrote with my roommate. She’s an amazing singer and sings with a choir. I can read, write, and record basic music. We put our two heads together and wrote this song and we recorded it at the local music school with the help of a friend who was studying there. This was about six years ago and I haven’t really done anything with it since that time.
I learned to play the guitar (not well), the bass, and keyboard. I learned the basics of recording on my own personal computer, I can certainly help someone else record a demo if they wanted to. I even brushed up on my music theory from what I learned in grade school and private lessons as a teen. I love music and everything to do with it. Even though I have tremendous stage fright, it’s only the pre-performance that bothers me. While actually performing, I am just fine, exhilarated even. I have made some amazing mistake while performing what should have traumatized me but I can only look back at them and laugh.
I think that the future of music industry will be determined by my generation. We love music and we will continue to want to hear new music. If we want to continue to enjoy new music, we will need to figure out a way to balance between purchasing music and supporting the artists. With changes in the release of digital content, we can buy directly from the artists, we can help them fund their recording process, and we can help them to fund a tour so that we can hear them directly. The record label isn’t as necessary as I used to be but it still has a place. Services like Spotify, Bandcamp, and to a limited degree iTunes/Google Play/Amazon will all have their place in the future of the music industry. I can’t wait till we see exclusive recording deals with digital media moguls like iTunes or Spotify. If Netflix can produce their own exclusive content, than we can certainly see Spotify do that one day. If I were a recording artist, I would go with Spotify and other streaming services over that of one of the big three.