Ian Rogers, the former head of Yahoo! Music who left to form a startup called Topspin that helps artists promote themselves without a major label, gave a great speech on the evolution and the future of the music industry. I’ve highlighted two slides here that I thought were particularly poignant.
The first reveals some very compelling and optimistic numbers about the rise in consumption and purchase of music, in general. It’s interesting to note the key stats – CD’s of course aren’t one of them, but music playing devices are up (iPods most specifically) year over year, as are individual music purchase moments are up, concert revenue is up. Streaming music is also way up (which may be licensed) and music file sharing is up. The interesting thing about the last point is, it parallels more music purchasing – file sharing and free (or advertising subsidized) streaming are music promotion vehicles, and more and more people are spreading the word about more and more music every day.
The second slide I want to point out is discussing the “shift in power” from the label to the artist, which also I think means some portion of power shifting from the label to the consumer. The future of the music industry leaves little room for price gauging by the music industry, because consumers won’t allow it. On the other hand, it gives a more direct relationship with the consumer and the artist that enables us to reward artists that we really truly enjoy their music. Hopefully more artists step away from the major label contracts realizing they don’t need them, so we can feel like the money we spend on music really goes to the artist. I also hope within the music industry and other industries there develops a system for consumers to give money directly to just about anyone we want to support in their creative endeavors. If I haven’t bought an album from someone because I can hear it for free elsewhere, but I still want to give them money to support their creation of future music, I want to be able to do it. In the mean time, I don’t buy songs very often, but I do spend a lot of money on Concerts, and I do try to spread the word about music, while buying a few tracks along the way.
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