We've seen the fast decline of vinyl record and CD sales happen before our very eyes during the past decade, so what can we expect from record companies moving forward.
Gone are the days when people rushed to the record store first thing in the morning to buy an album and then spent the rest of day listening to it over and over again. We’re no longer getting excited about taking a record out of its sleeve or hold our breath for the first spin. Some people don’t even seem to care about the beautiful artwork that once accompanied us through the first listen.
Music purchases in the past few years are turning more and more towards digital. In 2011, digital revenues were up 8 per cent to a staggering US$5.2 billion. And with the tendency to download music came yet another change in the music lover’s behaviour - downloading single songs rather than albums. Why spend money on music you don’t want when you can purchase just that one track you love?
In the United Kingdom, revenue from digital sales in the first three months of 2012 accounted for 55.5 per cent of the total £155.8 million spent on music. And this only sheds some light on the habits of people who actually buy music. It’s getting easier and easier to get by without spending a penny on music, and doing so without even getting close to breaking the law.
Music streaming services which usually function on a subscription service offer a certain level of access for free to music lovers who are feeling rather out of pocket. This model is often supported by advertising in between songs, and is becoming an increasingly popular choice for the cash strapped music lover. Ed Barton, director of digital media at Boston-based research company Strategy Analytics, told the Telegraph: “People are increasingly valuing accessibility and availability over actual ownership of digital music which, in turn, drives growth in streaming services which routinely offer instant access to over 10 million tracks."
However, one thing will probably remain the same throughout the years regardless of digital trends. Live music entertainment will most likely stay in favour. Perhaps fans will show their support for their favourite artists more through ticket and merchandise sales rather than buying albums. The t-shirt and silly hat stall is not a new presence at gigs by any means, but it has become a much more prominent source of revenue for artists in recent years as traditional ways of raising money are no longer as effective as they once were.
Income from gigs is so important to musicians nowadays that it is not unheard of unsigned bands offering their music for free online in order to gain a bigger following and attract larger audiences to their shows. Live music is still impossible to replicate and the experience cannot be sold in bytes or given away for free, so gigs will remain a strong source of funding for artists.
Many musicians have to think outside the box and say 'yes' to offers from people who book live bands for more unconventional appearances. But jobs on talk shows are scarce and not every artist can boast a family friendly repertoire that allows them to play wedding gigs. 2013 is the year to get creative, and the music industry is one to follow as it’s bound to offer some inspiring ideas to bolster its profit margins once more.