Major changes in the recording industry have taken place in recent years due to the online availability of music. These changes have seen inevitable and obvious to most everyone except for the record labels themselves. Due to their resistance to change their business models, the major record labels have been struggling to remain as successful – with threats of lawsuits used as a common tool.
While the record company’s mistakes are often discussed, I wish to look at attempts to successfully adapt from different areas of the music industry. What it means to be a musician has slightly shifted, in positive and negative ways, as innovative self-promotion becomes a standard part of the game. Musicians are able to draw attention to themselves online, before even receiving a record deal, giving more individuals the opportunity to garner a following, which no longer has to be located in one specific region before working on a national presence. While increasing the diversity of musicians in the field seems ideal, not all of them can make lasting careers. It appears that an artist’s potential to build lasting presence has decreased and most artist’s whose music makes it onto the charts will be one-hit wonders . There is still the potential for smaller artists to earn money, however, because the public’s interest in spending money on music has shifted – not disappeared. While many people are not buying music traditionally, they spend money on bands in alternative ways such as through concert tickets. Finally, the label EMI has adopted a new business plan, becoming more of a “rights management company” who also help release music. While this appears to be a lucrative plan, it also ignores the needs of many artists at EMI.
I wish to examine the economic incentives driving decisions such as this, how the digital age has redefined the roles of artists, and who these changes are benefiting.