The day the MP3 was born, the music industry changed forever.
It seems like almost overnight the entire music buying population switched from physical to digital. Not to mention that we might have seen a totally different distributing landscape if Apple hadn’t decided to step in when they did. Before iTunes was launched, digital music distribution was in a bit of a wild west phase where you could get music from many different sources, some legally questionable at best. The infamous Napster was the first and most popular of these sites. It functioned as a music sharing site where you could download almost any track for free provided a user had uploaded an MP3 of the track. Many other sites popped up with different flavors of this concept and even some music “stores” arose that would sell original music but the artist would never receive any royalties. This all changed with Web 2.0 and iTunes. The internet is a much more sophisticated place now and the music industry has caught up and integrated quite well. iTunes rules the roost when it comes to online music retailers but there are also other services such as spotify, amazon music and google play which have considerable user bases.
Do it yourself!
With the advances in computer hardware and software and the speed of the internet, it is now possible for a single artist to be their own manager, record label, sound engineer, and video editor. You will need to be able to do all of these things if you want to have a good chance of success. Playing local gigs and hoping for a record label to notice you may work but it is so Pre-Y2K.
Nobody listens to live music anymore.
We are the iPod generation; almost all of us hear the music we love online and maybe go see a concert if we really enjoy the album. When last did you give a damn about a band playing at your local pub unless you recognize them from your Facebook news feed?
Two things are a common trend with the internet today:
- We are all becoming more and more connected with each other.
- Information is becoming more and more disposable.
Think about it. We are all carrying tiny super computers in our pockets that can instantly connect to anywhere in the world. This is something incredible in our everyday lives that we hardly think about, but what does it mean for music producers?
People are sharing songs!
YouTube has almost every song imaginable on their servers and now, thanks to the speed of the internet and low price of data, we are at a point where we can have the video play even if we don’t particularly want to watch it. We will just let it play because ehh, why not? It turns out that this is quite important. At a time where Taylor Swift decides to take all her music off spotify to prevent people from even hearing her songs without paying, we need to ask ourselves if people will buy our music if they can just listen to it on the internet for free.
The numbers don’t lie. The undeniable answer is yes!
Overwhelming evidence suggests that consumers are willing to pay for music from indie artists provided a few things are true.
- The content is of high enough quality to be considered professional
- The content is enjoyable
- It is very easy to access and download the music
- The artist asks for support
Amanda Palmer personifies this concept wonderfully in her Ted talk titled the art of asking. To make it as an artist in the new super connected world of music sharing, we will all need to take a lesson in being humble and start getting really really good with creating content on computers and sharing it with everyone on the internet.