What Does the Future of Owning Music Look Like?
Back In My Day…
As an aspiring music producer one of my main goals is to stay informed with the pulse of the music industry and emerging artists. The biggest argument is that technology is taking away from big labels and making it difficult for artists and musicians to get paid, which is a half-truth. The intricacies of the music industry and the way money is divvied up is a rabbit hole that I am choosing not to dive down in this particular post, however, I am going to explain why the evolution of technology is benefiting us. When I say “us” I am grouping everyone together as consumers and producers of content. The way our parents listened to music is long gone. Few and far between are the days when we rode our bikes to the record store to thumb through vinyl or CDs. This being the only source for “owning” music in those days until the invention of the tape recorder… (I think we all remember holding a cassette player up to the radio to record our favorite songs). I remember when Napster/Kazaa/Limewire/Bearshare etc. was a thing. Those days are LONG gone for people with a conscious.
Fast forward to today and The Cloud is a very real thing. Streaming services are king. No one truly owns any music anymore but they have access to it all. I look at my cd collection and a slight crooked smile comes across my face because it makes me feel good that no one can take those from me. This is a great read on the pros and cons of the two sides of this coin: http://blog.ourvinyl.tv/music-talk-streaming-vs-owning/ . When it comes to services like Google Play or Spotify you pay a monthly fee to download music and have it available offline. As soon as you stop paying that monthly fee is when the brutal truth hits you. All of your custom playlists, made from the unlimited content and infinite amount of music from all over the world just simply disappears. You never really owned it to begin with. Aside from someone breaking into my parent’s house and stealing my dad’s vinyl collection, he will ALWAYS have those formed circles of plastic and beautiful art that is the record sleeve. As long as he has a functioning record player with a sharp needle he will be able to enjoy what he specifically chose to spend his hard-earned money on. Whereas when you decide that you no longer enjoy Spotify as a service they will cut you off from the music as if you were a trust fund baby that made a huge mistake in the eyes of his judgemental parents.
The Bedroom Producer
Despite this new reality of not truly owning music comes with it the accessibility to a never-ending discovery of new artists and musicians. This article paints a pretty amazing picture of the struggle that is facing artists: http://www.virgin.com/disruptors/what-impact-has-the-digital-age-had-on-emerging-artists . The way that user-generated content has come to the forefront has enabled the bedroom producer to jump into the game and be contenders against established acts that go on tour and spend millions on album creation. Let’s use Soulja Boy as an example. In September 2007, DeAndre Way, AKA Soulja Boy, uploaded his self-produced song and music video onto a relatively new app called Youtube. He made the song on his laptop in his bedroom and choreographed the dance with his friends and filmed it with a zero dollar budget. By the end of the month the song was heard globally and he stayed at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 for seven non-consecutive weeks. That was 2007 and now in 2015 we see this happening more and more. The Youtube star is a very real term and comes with it success beyond a person’s wildest dreams. If you have the gift/talent and want to share it with the world, you can.
Times They are a changin’
There is no doubt about it, faster than ever, technology is advancing. The newest way to listen to music or watch music videos is just on the horizon and it will blow our minds. We can’t even fathom what it will be like for our children. The truth is, there is nothing that we can do about it, besides becoming a hipster and living in a downtown Austin apartment and working in a vinyl record shop with no cell phone (Absolutely no offense if you meet that description or know someone who does). We don’t know what the future of owning music looks like, but we can probably guess that tangibility is not going to be a part of it. Personally I think that I am going to keep spending money on my record collection and being stubborn.
As always, please comment below and tell me your thoughts on where the music industry is heading and what you think the future of owning music is going to look like? Thanks for reading!