The Slow Demise of the Traditional Music Model

Credit: Ian BoydEveryone has acknowledged the burgeoning demise for a few years, but the old music industry is taking some time to transform into something new. Music sales are down, everyone touts, but more music is being created than ever before and many artists are setting out on their own without record companies. So, is the demise a result of illegal downloading, like many claim? Or is the independence of the artist a significant factor? Both have contributed to the transformations in the way we acquire and produce music, and both can show us what might work to keep musicians and others in music related careers thriving in the future.

Some potential and current changes include:

1) Transitioning from a reliance on a tangible product, to a digital product. This is obvious. We officially reached this point years ago, but it is worth noting that record companies can no longer rely on physical sales as a means of financial support.

2) Social media outlets will allow artists to take control of  their promotions as they also take back the rightful ownership of their work, brand image, distribution, and pricing. Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails are two bands who have already taken advantage of the business model by striking out on their own to release albums without record labels while allowing fans to “pick their price,” in a fashion similar to the makers of RIP: A Remix Manifesto.

3) According to TechCrunch, “Other revenue sources can and will be exploited,” including merchandise and live music.

4) The survival of the fittest is an important analogy. Gone are the days when record companies chose the music for the public. With more ways to obtain music and for musicians to create and promote their own work, the music industry has become more democratic and less oligarchic, placing pop culture in the hands of the consumer and the creator rather than in the hands of the elite marketer.


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