Now that the last month of the year is upon us, I’m reflecting on the status of the music industry. In 2015 we as an industry have not made much progress in the terms of growth in sales or the development of new technology. The music industry has a hard time knowing the power of its brand. Labels have too many flops and not enough hits, releasing based on volume instead of quality. Instead of focusing on building a great brand like the brands of the past; Motown, Def Jam, or even Atlantic, they are focusing on the now and not thinking about the longevity. In the recent years the music industry has embraced that there is a problem with artist development and the discovery of new talent. The methods of artist development have become over saturated. New technologies that are affordable have made it easier then ever to produce music for the common shower singer and have the ability to place content that distracts many. These same outlets that saturate music discovery cloud consumers from buying music. Never mind the streaming services that give consumers free access to larger catalogs of music content. The revenue streaming services have generated over the years is extremely low compared to other distribution platforms of the past. The models have so many floors and need to be restricted with limits. These limitations will give other distributions fair ground and give artists the ability to sell music on different platforms.
We must work on getting fair pay for fair play and never listen to others who tell us that our music has no value. The same people that tell you that music has no value make their wealth from your works. We must know the power of branding and not let others devalue that brand. A good example is when Taylor Swift removed her catalog from Spotify. Swift knew the value of her brand and her album sales are the result of that decision. Swift even made a stand when Apple Music’s service tried to short change artists for the use of their content in their trial run of their service. Swift was extremely professional on her approach when confronting Apple of their wrongdoing. Apple then rethought the decision due to Swift’s letter. Just this month alone we have seen Adele make the same kind of decision not to release her album on the Spotify streaming service. Again she is an artist that knew the power of her brand and has sold over 3 million albums within the first week. I think it’s an incredible achievement in today’s music industry.
In this time and age when many people believe that music holds no value, these two artists have shown everyone that music does hold its value. If we as an industry believe that music has no value, how will consumers see the value that music holds? There are plenty of consumer industries that sell products and services on a day-to-day basis; they face the same problems that the music industry faces today. The film and software industries face piracy each and everyday. However, I never hear Microsoft complain about piracy or that people are not buying DVDs. We need to man up and stop blaming piracy for our entire problems. I want everyone to know that I’m not in anyway saying that piracy is not a problem. I believe that the world as a whole could block pirated sites if we wanted to. If smaller countries have the power to block content, I believe we could to.
We as an industry have to pull together and recreate the way we discover, market, and distribute music. The decrease of music sales over the years affects everyone in this industry. The downsizing of companies means less jobs in a shrinking industry. I have seen many people get cut or let go over the years or even people trade industry lines for safer positions within other industries. So let make 2016 a brighter and better year across the boards, lets thrive again.