There is no doubt that the internet has drastically changed the music industry, for better or worse is still up for debate. There are those that would argue that the music industry should have seen this coming and done far more to adapt sooner. It is arrogant to believe that your industry will never be affected by the changes in technology. Let’s take a look at how the internet changed the record company, the music store and musicians alike. Every aspect of the industry has been affected by technology, let’s have a look.
The Record Company
The internet has completely changed how music is created, marketed, sold, the distribution channels and how it is shared. If you look back just 20 years ago, it was a completely different business model than it is now. Here is an example, digital technology brought about the end of the “CD”, there are very few sales of this format of music anymore and downloading music is here to stay.
Downloading music and sharing it across various platforms has led to a big problem with music piracy. The music industry has had to tackle this problem and you could argue that they have been unsuccessful in fighting piracy. File sharing programs have made life difficult for the record companies and policing the internet to try and catch music pirates is an impossible job. Here is a closer look at how piracy has affected the music industry.
Music stores seem to be a thing of the past with the advent of the internet. Independent music stores that used to be part of the landscape all across America are gone, and big retail chains are where you would purchase physical music today. Even the record aisle at Walmart is disappearing.
Today, buying music is far different than it was 20 years ago. Back then you bought albums or CDs from your favorite artist at a record or music store, today you buy music by the song from iTunes or some other online retailer. Music is almost completely digital downloads today. iTunes, which was unheard of just 15 years ago now has a monopoly on the digital market and it is the largest music retailer period, with over 70% of worldwide online music sales.
Music stores have had to change their product lineup from strictly carrying music to other things as well. Now you will find DVDs, CDs, t-shirts and books all lining the shelves. It’s pretty evident how much the internet has changed the industry.
For the Musician
It is easier and harder to break into the industry. Platforms like YouTube and Soundcloud have made it far easier to market your own music and build a following. Digital equipment means that for very little money you can make some incredible good recordings right in your own home. On the flip side getting signed to a major label is much harder than it used to be. Album sales are down and profit margins are much tighter meaning you really need to go out of your way to attract the attention of a record company executive.