The Music Industry: What does the Future Hold?

by jthompson1864 on September 23, 2013 - 8:42pm

The music industry has evolved exponentially from it's modest roots of Thomas Edison's voice-recording on a telegraph machine. The 20th and 21st centuries have seen pivotal developments in the business of music.

Please discuss key aspects of the ways in which the industry has developed. Also, what are some of the current issues facing the business? What are the implications of these issues for its future?

In other words, where has the music industry been and where do you perceive it's going?


I remember during my teens years in the mid 90's my music preferences were set on new releases from male artist promoting the 'bro code' culture: womanizing and having fun as much as you can before settling down and getting married with children. Of course, as I grow older I woke up from that ‘idealism’ and hooked with other trends according to my own right choices.

Female artist with Madonna-like attitude are now the new music trends and ones more bizarre than the other ones. According to ratings of popularity by social networking standards (tweets and likes counts and rising), these new artists are more in touch with their fans and can be aware of their preferences. Even their haters bring them awareness applied in new ideas for music, and lyrics and visual concepts for new videos uploaded on YouTube and other popular media websites, alongside the releases in radio stations and music channels. Most of those new artists’ trends focus on promoting ‘tolerance and awareness’ in support of minorities and equality in civil rights, with the tools provided by the freedom of speech.

The consumerism on the music industry’s products also begs the question to its consumers: how can I break the rules without breaking the law? Technology brings opportunities to download the last music trend with lots of add-ons and apps for desktops and mobile devices. Piracy seems not a big deal as long as these tech developments are in ‘competition’ with the legal markets, no matter how many sharing-files websites are shutting down by court’s rulings over them. This is one of the most challenging issues for the industry.

The bottom line is all these new trends and issues are the consequences of some of those past trends like the one I mentioned in the first paragraph above. The new technological developments are helping people to have more access to information and such progress is creating more challenges to the music industry at the same time.

Music has changed in so many ways throughout the years. Growing up in the 90’s and listening to music then is completely different from listening to music now. Then, the industry wasn’t about trends or following a celebrity around begging for a picture or even harassing them. It was about making good music and the artist wouldn’t have to worry about people stealing their music, even though, it around back then it wasn’t as much of a big deal as it is now. Now, you can pretty much download a song or an album anywhere.

I do believe that social networks have a huge impact on the change of the industry, websites such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Instagam and even YouTube. These websites have what the call “certified” pages of celebrities which shows the public a glimpse into their everyday life, which of course leaves people wanting more and becoming somewhat obsessed over them and their personal life and then they tend to become less interested in the music, which it was the music that caught their attention in the first place. If you look at album sales ten years ago, even longer ago and compare it to now they are no where near what sales are now because fans aren’t interested anymore. They are still interested in the celebrities but a different side of them.

I do not see the industry going back to how it was; unfortunately I do believe too much has changed. I feel that the public has already lost too much interest in the music, and I think that since people can illegally download music so easily that they aren’t going out of their way to go out and purchase a cd. Which then affects the artist who then can also end up losing interest.

I think being recognized for your music and the amount of people you can reach is a lot better now than it was years ago. That's due to all the technological advances and social media networking. Now a days people make music to make a stamp in the world for the present instead of making music that will last for years to come. An artist with longevity in the business is hard to come by. Profit-making due to sales of albums is tougher because of file sharing and illegal downloading but it makes more room for making profit in ticket sales and merchandising. It keeps people on their toes, to think of more creative ways to make money as artists instead of just waiting for albums to sell. This also increases their interaction with fans, as they would have to do more legwork to stay ahead of the competition.

Because of things like YouTube and Songcloud, people who love to make music and want to share it with the world can do so without having to worry about an agent or a record deal. It gives unknown artist exposure that they would not have been able to have years ago. Platforms like this help give hope to artist that might not have the funds to become mainstream. Some eventually do become stars.

So I feel the future of music is favorable. What lacks sometimes is the meaning and content in a song. As time progresses, music with substance is still being created and will last longer than the songs made to satisfy the public's finicky taste of what's trending.

The way we listen to music has changed. Before the music videos came out in the 1980's music was only about sound. It shared a message or told a story. Being Puerto Rican the music I heard while growing up was Salsa, Charanga etc, good part of the song was enjoying how different instruments played together in harmony.

Once the music videos came out and MTV took over, everything was about the videos and the style. I remember when Kriss Kross first came out and the style was the pants backwards and a lot of guys started wearing their pants like that. Artists and music videos influence what we hear, wear, buy and how we act. Now it has become easier to get our favorite music from any genre straight on our smart phone or computer. We can stream music and videos from programs such as you tube and pandora. Giving music a greater influence in our lives.

Music has evolved. What our parents call music is different from what we and even our children like. Every generation has their own sound, style and opinion.

The music industry has developed drastically over the centuries in which we see different cultures integrated into music. With each turn of the century music artists have had to change their music styles because let’s face it as music consumers grow so do their tastes in music. The nature of the industry has changed in that the most popular artists have only a short product life cycle. So artists have to constantly reinvent themselves and change the genre of their music. Such artists like Madonna and Michael Jackson have had the capability of changing their music styles to fit the changes in culture. Music industry has been undergoing drastic changes since the increase of widespread digital distribution of music we see a decline in record sales but live music has increased in importance. The biggest distributer of digital music is Apple Itunes, where with the click of a button you can buy a single of a popular song.
With the increase of internet technology it allows consumers to download music for little to no cost from the internet. Because this has been a widespread popularity in consumers it has contributed to the decline in sales and profits of music records. Music artists now have to find other alternative to make profits of their music. With the growth of American society technology will become even more sophisticated in the coming years. Many artists have difficulties in making a profit because of the dominance of the free music downloads. For them, the Internet may provide a useful means of distributing their music to fans around the world but at what costs. That is why many artists go on tour or perform in concerts. The music industry faces the challenge of meeting a changed market place and how they respond to such changes is going to be crucial in their success and the continued development of the music industry as a whole.
With the growth of technology the music industry will have to adapt to the growth. Artists and record labels will need to come up with different ways to sell their music. A lot of these music labels have incorporated copyright laws. A lot of these artists will also need to develop a means to stay relevant in American culture where they will have to adapt to change.

About the author

I've taught Business and General Education courses at The College of Westchester since 2004. During this time, I've taught and developed courses in the College’s Online and Adult Divisions. Currently, I'm a Walden University doctoral candidate in the Higher Education and Adult Learning program.