With a new year upon us there is always much anticipation on what is in store for the music industry. Last year digital music sales fell 9% to 117.6 million, while single track digital downloads dropped 12% to 1.26 billion. Album sales overall declined 11% (physical and digital) to 257 million. On-demand streaming service subscriptions are up 54%. However, they only make up 3% of the music industry’s revenue. Streaming services have clearly made their mark on the industry at large. I believe streaming services have damaged and hurt the sales of music and will continue to do so. Streaming services must change their business models to make fair ground for other distribution patterns.
Distribution is a major problem that the music industry faces. The music industry has put its eggs in one basket in hopes that streaming would be the answer to the declining sales. It clearly is not the answer when streaming only accounts for 3% of the music industry’s revenue. We must find a distribution model that speaks to our consumers and everyone profits. Another problem that we face is marketing, with shrinking budgets and a saturated music market it’s hard to inform consumers of new releases and upcoming albums. Nowadays we release more albums per week than ever. We should highlight talent with true potential and the artists that we believe in. We have put too much money into one hit wonders that lack longevity. We must maximize our budgets and then we will maximize our profits. The last problem the music industry has is A&R. Shirking budgets mean less money to cultivate talent and everyone knows it takes time and money to develop new talent. In this day and age so many people want to be discovered, but lack the talent, professionalism, and budget. They tend to saturate digital and traditional outlets. Just like music distribution, we need to find a new way for A&R to find talent.
I find it funny that other music industry professionals keep saying that the music industry is in a transitional stage. Where is the new change? The same stuff day in and day out. The music industry could boom once again, but it will take some work.