The Music Industry: Spinning A New Business Model
The Internet has impacted all of the arts, but no sector has been hit quite as hard as the music industry. With CD sales fading and radio play shrinking, recording artists are finding less opportunities to get their music heard. To survive, many musicians are becoming brands in the service of brands. The industry is in such a free fall that advertising avenues are filling the shoes that music labels once did. During most of rock’s history melding music in the service of a product was anathema. But this is a very different world; in the past musicians and record labels could make a good living off of selling records and CDs. An artist didn’t have to sell his or her music to an advertiser or TV show to turn a profit. But with the advent of Napster and subsequent sites, the days of platinum and double platinum record sales are quickly fading.
Now most bands make their money off of touring, merchandising and yes, melding their music with products. Lady GaGa’s Bad Romance is a product placement wet dream come true. The video is filled with brands galore. But she’s not the only one going down that road; everyone from Iggy Pop to Velvet Revolver to Depeche Mode has cut deals with products and brands. Although Steve Jobs helped to put some life back into music with iTunes as a way to generate revenue, it’s a far cry from where things stood in the ‘60s, ‘70s, or ‘80s. As the industry shifts, artists have to rethink their approach and their career paths.
The downside is that labels are no longer there with the famed A&R reps grabbing bands off the streets and turning them into stars (not that it was ever that common an occurrence to begin with). The upside is that there is now more of a level playing field. Via the same Internet that broke the old music model, singers, bands and musicians are discovering new models and approaches. The traditional opportunities of the record label’s star building machine aren’t as great as they were when Cream, the Stones, Madonna or the Chile Peppers initially made their marks. The music world is shifting, but as one door closes others open. To those artists who are willing to embrace change, new and exciting avenues and business models are appearing. Via the net, more artists have an opportunity to get known and develop a career. But, it has become more of a do- it-yourself world. Musicians who learn social media, blogging, and traditional PR will continue to build a buzz, establish a presence and create a fan base. Those artists who embrace change will still find ways to succeed, make an impact and build lasting careers.