The Current State of the Music Industry

Welcome back Fame House intern 
Nicholas Giannasca, HC ’15 to the CCPA Summer Blog series.

I recently read an article by Thomas Honeymoon entitled, “How One Generation Was Single-Handedly Able to Kill the Music Industry”. The article highlights the fundamental shift in the music industry in terms of how people consume one of the most profitable parts of our popular culture. The article blames Millennials for this cultural shock, namely, anyone who grew up or was born at the turn of the 21st century.

Artists from the 80s lived and died by how many albums they sold. A fair measure of success many would agree. However, music sales are at historic lows. Moreover, most artists never sell an album and only release single tracks. In the 80s, people would laugh if you told them that in thirty years, music would be marketed and sold predominantly as single songs. Nowadays, we cannot imagine a world where we could not go to the iTunes store and purchase a single song for $0.99. This digital dominance is commonplace in nearly every industry, it seems.

There are numerous digital platforms that support music from artists free of cost, and the lack of capital flow from record sales leads to a business model where artists simply market their music for free but simultaneously building a fanbase that will eventually lead to merchandise, ticket and several other sources of revenue that offset the lack of actual record sales.

One of the reasons artists can be so reliant on these seemingly secondary streams of revenue is because an artist’s ability to market and build a fanbase is exponentially more efficient and effective. Companies like Fame House provide this ability to artists, effectively replacing the big-name record labels of the last fifty years.

So, there is a cycle in which artists are indirectly compensated for the music they sell. Record sales are not a uniform measure of success or popularity anymore. “For the first time in its long history, the American music business is firmly in the hands of the artists and consumers.”

In my opinion, the music industry is not dead. However, music is not what is being industrialized. Everything else is. Platinum records are non existent because success is measured in tickets stubs, t-shirt sales and Facebook followers, not platinum records.

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