Analog music is slowly making a resurgence, with vinyl records popping up in popular discount stores. But that doesn’t matter to the streaming giants that now rule the music market
Just a few years ago, when your favorite band released a new album, you would walk into a music store and happily buy the CD right away. At home or in the car you would start the music and enjoy the fresh sounds of your beloved band. When you had listened to the album from cover to cover, you put it on the shelf with your other albums and singles. Today, you literally only need one click to repeat this entire process without leaving your home
Music from your smartphone
There are fewer and fewer stores where you buy only CDs. While outlets that rely on selling vinyl are popping up, it’s still a niche market. There is no escaping the future – today music is streamed, directly to your phone and headphones. Many artists are already ditching analog media and releasing their albums exclusively on major music platforms like Spotify, Tidal or even YouTube. The sudden development of technology has changed the image of the industry, where high-speed internet and smartphones are the carriers of your favorite sounds. The main reason behind this direction of the market is comfort – all you need is a device that fits in your pocket. You no longer need to carry around a stack of CD boxes, let alone the previous vinyl technology
Miniaturization and computerization have entered the music industry with great strides as well. Another thing has changed: with streaming music, the listener no longer owns a physical copy of the music – they don’t buy it in the literal sense, and so the relationship to it has changed as well. For the price you would once pay to buy a single album, you can now gain temporary access to millions of tracks. The possibilities can sometimes be overwhelming, but the true music lover will also see many advantages. With music streaming, you can easily meet new artists and expand your horizons. Algorithms in music apps tell you which other artists you should like and what to listen to now. They create convenient playlists, mix music genres, and let you know about new releases and concerts near you. Everything served in an easy and convenient way
Artists earn differently
Artists earn less and less directly from the sale of their music. Instead, they receive a portion of the amounts that streaming app users pay for access to the platforms. The amount of income usually depends on the sum of the number of listens an artist receives, but is not necessarily proportional to it. This means a tougher start for up-and-coming solo artists and bands, who may struggle to hit a certain number of listens to their tracks in order to make a living from it. There has been a change in the main source of income for artists – now concerts play a much bigger role. Subjectively, a high number of plays doesn’t necessarily mean a lot more money for artists, but a significant number of tickets and T-shirts sold does.
Better and cheaper sound system
The development of technology also affects the quality of music we listen to. Home sound systems are getting better and better, but also cheaper. Today, for relatively little money you can have really good audio equipment in your living room that not only supports your TV speakers, but also takes your music to a new level – whether you’re watching your favorite band play live in surround sound or listening to their latest album in the best stereo quality. Some songs on streaming services also allow you to play them in 5.1 Surround. And while the quality of this music is still inferior to vinyl or even CDs, it’s hard to beat the feeling of sitting between musicians who are playing specifically for you.
The future of the industry is blockchain
Blockchain is the technology that is currently revolutionizing the financial industry. It’s what’s behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that are creeping ever more boldly into consumer consciousness. Blockchain resembles a decentralized database, which in its structure is similar to a chain. Each successive block has an encrypted password to its predecessor and must be completed before the next block is built. This technology could change the way we pay for music and make users reach into their pockets just to pay for what they are currently listening to, without the need for a monthly, subscription-based sum up front. What’s more, blockchain can transfer money directly to artists as soon as a user listens to a song, bypassing intermediaries.
Main article photo: Designed by Freepik