A tradition is happening in the unfair and expensive music industry we, as a society, have grown to distrust. No longer is the fight to be heard judged by the business executives with fat wallets and fat heads. Growing technology has allowed individuals to take a stand and listen to music they choose and at what price they wish to pay.
The music industry throughout its history has had to adapt and change with advancing technologies. Invented in the 1960’s, the 8-track was the premier portable audio format. 8-track was popular for 15 years until the development of the commercial cassette tape in the late 70’s. The cassette made 8-tack tapes obsolete because of its better quality and, with the introduction of the Sony Walkman in 1979, its portability. With the rise of computer technology throughout the 80’s and 90;s, it was no surprise that an even better quality format that was compatible with personal computers would be created. The Compact Disk was the beginning of the digital era. Much like the 8-tack and the cassette were unable to keep up with advancing technology, soon the CD will be incompatible and will be unable to compete. Throughout all of these changes there is no indication of a collapsing industry or lack of passion for music. The easier and more convenient it is for people to acquire music, the longer the format and even the industry thrives. With broadband and wireless Internet connections faster and more popular than ever, mp3 files and downloading music is the current market trend.
The global market for music has increased exponentially through the ability to send music around the world in a matter of seconds. The business of music has to change. There is a need for new models and structures to utilize the expansion of the market. No longer is it four major record companies holding the monopoly on manufacturing and distributing; artists can now access their fans directly. The issue of sharing and pirating music is a problem caused by an industry reluctant to embrace and share profits with technology providers. Many solutions and ideas have been discussed in order to combat this ongoing problem, one being a rate added onto Internet service providers. This allows record companies to still be paid for music that is being shared and distributed online without their permission. These companies want the public to be unable to join the playing field because it would mean that consumers would have more control. There is a great amount of wealth in the music industry at this time because the companies that dominated have been unable to exploit the webs services; this leaves a large gap which the public has full access to grasp. The fall of the record companies will not be the fall of the music industry because the value of music doesn’t change.
Music needs to have a creative and artistic purpose. It needs to be as timeless and passionate as it has always been. The value music has is an unmeasurable, unpredictable and often very personal thing. In order to place a number value on music, you must disregard many other factors that make up what full value it holds to individuals. Just because something costs nothing to produce, buy or deliver, does not mean it has a lesser value than something that does. It is the age old tale of you can’t buy happiness, you can only experience it. Music is an experience that has the power to capture an individuals emotion as well as those of an entire population.
“The most important thing we have to do now is get the art right. So many of the decisions at these companies have not been about the music. They sign artists for the wrong reasons – because they think somebody else wants them or if they need to have a record out by a certain date. That old way of doing things is obsolete, but luckily, fear is making the record companies less arrogant. They’re more open to ideas. So, what’s important now is to find music that’s timeless. I still believe that if an artist gains the belief of the listener, then anything is possible.”
– Rick Rubin (New York Times Magazine, “The Music Man” – Sept ’07)
There has never been a better time to be involved with the roller coaster we call the music industry. Music is a valuable commodity that is now able to be heard and appreciated without borders between countries, race, religion or age. Access is now virtually universal. CD sales may have dropped and revenues are because of it, but rising sales of mp3 downloads show a tremendously large and untapped form of profit. It is time to adapt and bring the business aspect of this wonderfully creative art up to par with the technology which it uses.