This year’s events make it clear to us that the music industry is changing. It can no longer function as it has over the last few decades. We are entering the stage of wars, revolution and chaos. Is there a way out of this situation? And who is responsible for this state?
We live in very strange times, but this is not known from today. For music and the whole music industry it is also a hard time, because we are all entangled in a struggle which, as it turns out more and more clearly, will not lead to anything good and will last a very long time. It can do a lot of harm to those who are most important in all this confusion, but are constantly being overlooked – the artists and us, the listeners.
We live in very strange times, in which even Music, an area of art, is becoming extremely radical. We are in the middle of a clash between the old and the new, the skirmishes of big corporations that want to make as much money as possible and clarify a few separate and very different “movements”, including resistance.
Globally, we are slowly preparing for an open war between streaming services and record companies, because the drive-ups and sabotages have been going on for quite a long time and have not brought any solution.
The cannon fodder will of course be the artists who are losing more and more. Locally, however, we observe a growing interest in young, unknown artists and a return to their roots – a desire to enjoy every sound and celebrate moments spent listening to music. In which direction is all this going?
Zones and looking for a new distribution model
New technologies are an inseparable part of our lives and we will not change that because we cannot live differently. Besides, there is nothing wrong with them. Music services, and above all streaming, have become so popular for a simple reason – huge sound libraries are available anywhere and anytime, they are legal and comfortable. We are a genre that likes comfort.
However, it should be remembered that for platforms such as Spotify to exist, provide us with music and continue to develop, musicians are needed, and in fact they are the ones who are most affected here.
But each stick has two ends, let’s not be naive – it’s obvious that if it wasn’t for the staff of streaming platforms to take care of our tastes, to put together playlists and match proposals according to what we like, it’s about the existence of many of the artists we listen to today, who we listen to habitually, even if we wouldn’t know.
We see the fight on top: Spotify and YouTube paying a hundred cents to play, misguided and overestimated TIDAL, the majors (i.e. the biggest labels: Sony Music, Universal Music and Warner Music) blocking their musicians on SoundCloud, expecting more and more influence.
Apple Music, awakened from a strong sleep, wanting to seize a part of the market for themselves, making very immoral contract proposals to the labels. Labels, of course, have to and want to fight for their own, because they see that sales of physical music media, and even MP3 files, are falling dramatically, and pay the employees with something they need. So they are looking for solutions.
Enjoying the music and returning to the roots
An extremely interesting phenomenon, in complete opposition to the situation on the corporate level, is the appreciation of music and its slow “taking”. While sales of CDs have dropped significantly over the last decade, vinyl is doing better and better on the market. Black, large, plastic records are returning to favor.
Collecting them is an expensive hobby, but they have more and more followers among people from the digital age. Calmness, cutting yourself off from the whole world, warm, non-synthetic sound and appreciation of the moment – these are probably the most frequently cited arguments for listening to music from the turntable.
We’re bored with compressed music, we’re fed up with 128 kbps quality tracks and we’re looking for an experience for our ears. Of course not everyone. As I mentioned before, we are used to the fact that we have everything at our fingertips and right away, and vinyl is not for everyone, because of its price, because it is much more labor- and time-consuming to press it.
It is for these two reasons that we will never see a dizzying expansion of plastic discs in the 21st century. It is also an exclusive solution, but here there is no problem with it, because few decide on them, and in this business the demand balances the supply.
This is a really interesting phenomenon. I’m standing somewhere in the middle – it couldn’t be any different if I write this article. However, the celebration, ritualisation of listening and learning about music is not only related to vinyl or having audiophile music equipment.
In the era of flooding radio stations and making pop for one hoof, young people are increasingly looking for good music. Unfortunately, they do not have the authority to guide them and tell them what to try. You are not born with a developed taste for music, you shape it all your life. I would like to be such a musical advisor, guide, but I have a lot of learning ahead of me. It doesn’t change the fact that there are a few people and places that I like to call that.
Is there a chance to find a solution?
We have found ourselves in a place where it seems that it is no longer possible to reconcile both poles – the music industry is a huge business that has to make money. We should follow the voice of the majority, or perhaps nicer – “with the spirit of the times”. Of course, some of them are outrageous and disgusting, but I think there is no turning back.
We can only sit down and start looking for a sensible reconciliation of both visions, because the good of music and the development of young musicians are most important. I also know that this is practically impossible, but is the ideological partisan better?
Finally, a little reflection: it’s better to get dualism or bipolarity – in the first scenario both parties can coexist. In the case of the second solution, everyone pulls in their own direction and does not want to accept the existence of a different relationship, which strongly disturbs the harmony, especially important in the area of music.
What will be the next few years in the music industry? Will it be possible to find a solution that will ensure that the demands of bloodsucking institutions will not come to the fore, but the good of creators and listeners? Everything will be decided in the coming years and the first decisions will be made in the coming months.