The Internet has opened up a world of options to a huge number of people. With Netflix, Video gaming culture, You Tube stars- all of these new forms of entertainment have fragmented the concentration and focus on musicians somewhat- we have many different sorts of stars now. Tubular Labs (2015) created a list of the top 10 most influential UK creators for the BBC:
Netflix goes from strength to strength as reported of Music Business Worldwide:
This readily available tool of promotion, the Internet, means that artists and creators can put themselves and their work out to the world at the touch of a button. The tech required and the platforms to do it available mean there are more niche goods available to us now than ever, to rephrase Anderson (2009). However artists remuneration-any artist or creator that isn’t a superstar- is still rather low. Soundcloud and YouTube are websites that have been using ‘safe harbour’ laws, operating without paying the great majority of rights holders using the service using the safe harbour defence against claims they are infringing copyright.
“User upload platforms, such as SoundCloud and YouTube, are taking advantage of…Laws that were designed to exempt passive intermediaries from liability in the early days of the internet – so-called ‘safe harbours’ – should never be allowed to exempt active digital music services from having to fairly negotiate licences with rights holders.”- Frances Moore, IFPI head
You can read the full post here: Frances Moore slams ‘Safe harbour’ websites
The internet has changed how business is done from the front-line in talent discovery, A&R, that used to be based on word of mouth or going to shows, now is more a matter of tallying up numbers to see who has a a presence online or proven following.
It has changed distribution- the biggest online retailer is a tech company not a music company, Apple- who figured out that files would continue to be shared digitally no matter what and so created a legal and convenient way for users to do it. Music companies failed to ‘ride the wave’… instead they tried to fight it by prosecuting file sharers. The Guardian reported a woman being sued (ridiculously in my opinion) for $220,000 here.
Christensen (1997, p.12) described this process whereby established companies often ‘miss the boat’ in regards to innovation:
“By and large, a disruptive technology is initially embraced by the least profitable customers in a market. Hence, most companies with a practiced discipline of listening to their best customers and identifying new products that promise greater profitability and growth are rarely able to build a case for investing in disruptive technologies until it is too late.”
The value of music has changed in the eyes of consumers- in his book, The Longer Long Tail, Anderson (2009) writes that between 1990-2000 album sales doubled, but in the year 2000 sales went on a downward spiral and kept dropping- 2.5% in 2001, and by a total of ¼ between 2001 and 2007. The websites like Napster, Kazaa and Limewire and the file sharing capabilities, the huge amounts of piracy through these web sites all predicated this shift- and the final blow was the introduction of the iPod and it’s large storage capacities.
Streaming sites like YouTube and Spotify filled a gap in the market that was created by the closure of those file sharing platforms. Topping (2009) reported for The Guardian that:
“…Less than a third of teenagers are now illegally downloading music, the survey suggests. In January this year 26% of 14 to 18 year olds admitted filesharing at least once a month compared with 42% in December 2007”
The Guardian 2009 Article
Streaming websites have increased in popularity to the point where now, Berklee ICU (2015) write in their Fair Music report:
“The Music consumption is also shifting from ownership to access…ABI Research predicts that, by the end of 2018, we’ll see 191 million streaming subscribers, generating a whopping $46 billion in cumulative revenue”.