The Music Economy - At a Glance
Vast are the opportunities to search for, play and listen to music. With the transformation of technology the largest proportion of the music sector now begins and remains online.
"The UK listens to 60 billion hours of music a year - the equivalent of 7 million years," according to UK Music.
With what used to involve a trip to the local record shop to check out the smell, touch and preview of the latest releases on vinyl, CD and cassette (that's if you're old enough to remember) has now been dominated by the online economy where tracks can be seen, heard and bought at the flick of a switch.
"Great" some may say, when it comes to wider tastes and reaching overseas interest. Although speaking to artist's directly the impact is not quite as simple. With arguments over who's getting a larger cut of the royalties and IMPALA (The Independent Music Companies Association) pushing the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate further into streaming services, it suggests the value of music has fallen for musicians, as the streaming platforms are reaping the financial benefits.
A recent and ongoing case between Kieran Hebden, widely known as Four Tet, and Domino Recordings demonstrates the friction and impact of record deals within the music industry being vastly affected by the streaming service climate.
As this case continues, it appears there's an increase in artists self-releasing their own work at a flat fee in order to then keep 100% of their royalties - which makes sense. This, on the other hand, takes on the additional responsibility of self promotion and if you're starting out, that's quite a demanding process. Not only do you need to be good at music, you now need to understand algorithms, marketing, business, content design and quality, competition... and study economics.
Social media platforms seem to be the trend and almost essential tool for any and almost all of businesses these days which can be fun for those 'influencers' out there but there is the other side of this to consider. Where certain profile artists have reported the use of social media demand having a negative impact on their mental health (see video below) it's tricky getting the balance.
Another traditional alternative is busking. Although even this has it's restrictions in certain areas where you're required to hold a licence.
Next time you discover an artist who resonates with your soul, pause for thought and see just how your listening behaviour can really impact the artists and their next career move. If you want to contribute to their success, go directly to their profile and buy their work. You could even inbox them for best practice, you'll be surprised how they appreciate fan support.
*Fact* - Portuguese artist Rui Da Silva also owns the label Kismet Records where he released 'Touch Me' featuring the vocals from a broke Busker, Cassandra Fox. This spiralled to number 1 back in the 90's making it one of the most successful labels of its time. Even this however was deeply affected when it's distributor (alike many other distributors, record labels and stores at the time) went bust due to change of music's consumer behaviour. Rui did manage to hold onto his label and still publishes music today but only very few - based on quality and innovation.
We now pay tribute to the late Jamal Edwards who propelled the careers of multiple musicians and discussed practical issues within the industry. The video link is courtesy of YouTube and SB.TV the channel Jamal created himself. It discusses mental health in the music industry and touches on the impact of social media.
It was published back in 2017, so times may well have changed but the one aspect that I would personally like to take issue with is the professor from UMC discussing mental health and describing it as 'mental illness' throughout. I think this wording is damaging as it suggests there's no way around it with a label of 'illness'. Having personally suffered from mental health challenges, there are ways of making moves to recover. Each person should be given the room to be understood and treated individually (in my opinion). One programme being a fundamental source of therapy, treatment and focus is music. Previous blog posts delve deeper into how...*This may not apply to everyone and there are many alternatives*
RIP Jamal, a young man who left his legacy within UK music and beyond.