Talk to anyone who’s in the music industry, and no doubt at some point the conversation eventually turns to what can save this industry from itself. From it’s complete free fall into the dark illegal downloading abyss. No one knows. No one’s making money like they use too. What’s worse is when you talk to someone who’s been making records since the 80’s or 90’s. They make that era sound like it was the golden ages. Everyone was a musical Scrooge McDuck swimming in their lake of gold coins. Probably crapping them out from excess. It makes me feel ill thinking about it. Like I was born in the wrong decade.
But then I realize some of the good that’s come of it…. The major label “gate keepers” are dying left and right. The ability to hear anyone’s music, anytime, with a quick google search is priceless. Sure, artists aren’t making nearly a quarter of what use to be made, but at least you can hear whatever you want without the radio having to force feed you Nickelback….. or maybe that’s just the liberal hippie in me talking? I don’t know. The thing is, everyone deserves to be paid probably for their work. That’s the bottom line.
And that bothers me.
And what use to be jokes about “starving artists” has become a reality for most people in this industry. About 5 percent of the people make ALL the big money. The millions that motivate lots of young people initially to make music is purely delusional. Not saying you can’t have dreams, but if being rich and famous is the main motivating force for you to write songs, you’ll never make it. It’s more than that. Much more. It’s about the love of it. But that’s a whole other conversation.
So what’s the future saving grace that’s going to drag music out of the gutter? I think it could start with Spotify. If you don’t know, Spotifiy is a massive library of music that can be accessed for free. Both current and old. And did I mention it was FREE? Yep, free. It’s a great idea, and the artist gets paid per listen. So it’s a win/win for everybody. There’s ads every 15 minutes or so, but you get that with youtube anyway.
When an artist puts their music up on Spotify they have nothing to lose. It’s a chance to make some money on songs that will probably get posted on youtube by a fan anyways…. where you won’t receive a dime in compensation. And youtube seems to be the first place everyone goes to hear a quick tune for free. I do it all the time. My friends do it all the time. But that can change if the norm for listening to music becomes Spotify or another online streaming service like it. If everyone jump’s on and starts putting there music on Spotify, like they do with itunes, then that starts to become the norm for hearing everything. Then, maybe the format starts to fade away from youtube. At least the artist can get paid in some capacity for their work.
Napster brought down the old business model of the major label. Itunes has somewhat been a saving grace. And now along comes Spotify. Is it just another quick trend? Could be. Or can it be damage control for an industry in desperate need of one. Only time will tell.