Never before in history has it been so easy for people to consume music in its various forms. In addition to listening to music on the radio and watching videos on MTV and BET, etc., you can stream music content on YouTube, Spotify, and other music-sharing platforms, as well as download tracks from countless portals and add it to your music player.
But increased access has not necessarily meant an increase in fortunes for the vast majority of people who literally make the music. Instead, it has resulted in more and more music creators losing out on revenue and not being able to live comfortably from their careers, even after having their work shared millions of times around the world.
In fact, revenue earnings for the music business have fallen by 40% over a 15-year period since the digital revolution, as pointed out in ‘state of the industry’ reports in recent years. And even though the music market recorded growth of 5.9% in 2016 – the first time since 1997 – according to figures released by IFPI in their Global Music Report for 2017, much more progress is needed for the glory days in music to return. However, that can only happen if progressive changes are made to the current music business model to ensure songwriters, in particular, are fairly rewarded for their works.
Across all major industries, various technological shifts have seen companies having to innovate in order to remain viable. One could say that the businesses that have survived the digital storm are those that evolved with the times and came up with new and innovative ways of accomplishing daily tasks.
With that said, it is little wonder why there are so many people in the music industry who have to seek additional employment to sustain their livelihoods, because the music business itself is one that hasn’t changed much. In 2017, music creators are still bound by decrees that were created more than 50 years ago when the business was a totally different model. In other words, the industry is being run as one that is centered around physical music sharing instead of digital.
This is hurting music creators in the place where it hurts most – in their pockets. The result, many are not able to create music how they want to, on a consistent enough level, to ensure they have a continuous income stream to pay bills, buy food, and just survive comfortably. It’s a situation that has left many calling for a major overhaul of the music industry.
Not only are songwriters and other music professionals faced with high costs of music production, they also have to wait a long time to receive royalty checks after making the music. This leaves a huge gap, which must be funded somehow. In addition, they are not getting adequate returns from current modes of digital music consumption, especially in the area of streaming.
For instance, the IFPI 2017 report notes that there is a huge value gap between audio streaming and user uploaded video streaming, which is the biggest threat to the recorded music industry. It points out that audio-streaming services such as Spotify, with a user base of 112 million paying subscribers, generate approximate revenues of $20 per user. On the other hand, user uploaded video streaming services such as YouTube, have upwards of 900 million users, but only generate revenue of about $1 per user.
As you can imagine, this is a significant gap that represents a significant loss in earnings for music creators, who although residing at the top of the music creation chain, are relegated to being bottom-feeders.
How does all this affect you as a music creator? What do you think is a solution to the problem that will once and for all see musicians benefitting from their hard work? Well, there have been attempts by individuals and companies to bring about change in the industry over the years, some of which have helped somewhat.
One of the most recent innovations, Tunedly, is seeking to revolutionize and decentralize the industry by putting back the power of choice, as well as creative control in the hands of music creators. It is doing this by allowing anyone, who has an interest in creating high-quality music, to easily connect with the tools and resources needed from anywhere in the world. It sets itself apart from existing platforms by encouraging live collaboration with professional musicians, allowing users to spend only on what they require for their projects, as well as increasing the opportunity for exposure to industry professionals. While there is still much to be done, Tunedly represents a step in the right direction.
Music undoubtedly is a unifying force and a source of entertainment for billions of people around the world. For it to remain viable, the music evolution is necessary and it has begun with Tunedly.