Reflections on 2013 – changes in the music industry
Guest Blog by: Eazie Rider
The internet makes the world a more democratic place. Information can spread across the world in a split second. If you have a great idea, the chances of it actually reaching the public are greater than ever before. Entrepreneurs can get inspiration and feedback directly from the customers they seek to target and understand.
The days of monopolies are numbered, as most customers now search for the best deals online. In a world where EVERYONE has access to EVERYTHING, the best products and the businesses that offer the best user experience will eventually outshine their competitors. This is truly a democratic process of selection, survival of the fittest. It’s true that businesses with massive marketing budgets still have the advantage, but the results are not quite as palpable as they were in the analogue era.
Established Industries need to let go of the idea of controlling the information that reaches the public. There used to be a fixed amount of products on the market, controlled by a fixed group of corporations. These corporations were supposedly in competition, but in fact they all worked together to maintain the Status Quo, embodied in transparent structures and full control of all processes. Nowadays there’s a flood of products on the market, and it’s impossible to monitor. Customers can simply pick out what they want. If they’re satisfied with a product, they can share this information with hundreds of people across the world via a single post. Some people might then pass on the information, sharing it with their own followers. This creates an environemnt in which marketing is not even necessary. There is no need for press releases or flowery language, because nobody cares about it anymore.
Even people who use modern business models such as streaming services are still trying to keep the idea of an artificial illusion alive at their press conferences. The illusion is that you can impose your product upon anyone, so long as you constantly and repeatedly enforce the idea that it is the best, biggest and most beautiful of ist kind. Why is this still happening? Why don’t people sit back and relax? If your product is really so great, then people will recognise this on their own. In the internet age, anyone who creates something amazing will receive the recognition they deserve sooner or later. For example, SoundCloud never had to stand up in front of the public and say: „hey everyone, look at this amazing product we’ve created“. They just started doing something, and inspired users with their simple but genius idea.
In the digital age there is no reason why musicians shouldn’t receive all of the income made on sales. Distribution, promotion and exploitation of the music, royalties, and contracts: all these things cost next to nothing and take hardly any time in the digital world. Of course, this isn’t a good thing for the people who were able to make their own living from administrating these areas in the analogue world – however, whether these people were justified in making as much money as they did remains to be seen! One thing is fure sure, the times are definitely changing.
GEMA is now raising its events tarifs, with the awareness that some venues will have to close as a result of this decision. The process is, however, taking place in stages over several years, allowing those affected to at least have some ‚planning time’. In other words: the owners of the clubs affected have a few more years to try and find a new job. GEMA says that this process is unavoidable – the tarifs must be raised, as the fee that authors and copyright holders receive was not correct on the old tarifs.
We now have the technical ability to market, distribute, sell and exploit music without any middle men. More money can go directly to into artists’ pockets. However, businesses may have to close down because they are simply not needed any longer. Is it ok if you give employees a few years to try and find a new job? Are some jobs more valuable than others?
Everyone should be paid for what they do, and most artists are more than happy when people can take on some of their administrative workload. There are hardly any artists who really want to be 100% DIY, as most people would happily pay for someone else to do something, giving you, the artist, more time for creativity. Artists are grateful for digital distribution nowadays, as their songs can be made available in every online music shop – definitely a service worth paying for. The relationship is simply levelling out: service providers are service providers, and they have nothing to do with the creative process, which is actually at the root of the whole industry. If you want to work with artists and share the income generated by their creative work, you need to be humble.