The ongoing debate about music, the record industry and the ability to make a living as an entertainer continues to rage on. Everyone is trying to figure out the right remedy to the situation, to figuratively “stop the bleeding” and to see what will become the next forefront in the monetization of the music business. Some believe that the future lies in the past – the record business as a whole – while others believe the future lies in other ventures or opportunities. Music will always be the central part of every musician’s career, but more to promote themselves as opposed to being a tool to pay the bills. Acts with an established history and careers will be less affected than new emerging artists without years of record sales. See, there are two types of artists in this business: Pre and post-Napster. Statistically speaking, it gets more complicated looking at charts and figures of current sales and future forecasts. But the single remaining constant in all of this will be: “No one will ever sell records like they used to.”
But there will always be a demand for new music and at least for now, a lot of this demand will continue to involve record labels and the selling of music.
So, the economy has been on the downslide for several years, then it rallied a bit, depending on your industry or viewpoint. The world still struggles with financial debt, trying to balance the needs of all countries as well as monetary and fiscal policy. Things are in the proverbial toilet and no one has escaped economic hardships. Disposable income and certain choices no longer exist and a lot of people are only able to afford the bare essentials.
Despite the downturn, music remains a staple commodity for many in first world countries (probably in a lot of second world countries, too) throughout good times and bad. When people are happy they want to listen to music, when they are sad they want to listen to music, and when they’re angry…you get the picture. No matter what the desire, music in our lives is an essential matter. At least, I think for most people, although I am not trying to speak for everyone. Yes, there are many people who can say they don’t listen to music, but I wouldn’t know any – we wouldn’t get along!
It’s safe to say that if you told most people that they no longer could listen to music or that it wouldn’t be available for any reason, that there would be a worldwide crisis – we cannot live without it! Now, imagine the opposite that we can now get most music for free and now can get it online, delivered right to our computer and don’t even have to leave our desk chair. Hallejulah! Let the floodgates open because, again, “it’s only music, right?” How can something so valuable literally be free? Doesn’t that kind of defeat the notion of value? Basic things like air (and some water) is free – anything else man made or consumed, isn’t.
Most people don’t even remotely understand the recording business or the ins and outs of a record deal. Let’s say for the sake of simplicity that to make a record, it costs money. You download music for free and it wreaks havoc on the entire system. None of this is revolutionary thought or hasn’t been pondered over before, but it seems that most people don’t realize that the record business is becoming an antiquated model. Change is inevitable and as humans we are required to adapt to our surroundings to survive. Business is no different. Any successful businessman will tell you about the trials and tribulations they have faced on their way up; the forks in the road that veered them in different directions…
The connecting of people via the internet provides endless opportunities to share information and music. Because this vast network exists there isn’t a way to regulate a lot of the file transfers between areas of the internet – so music can come and go as the users please. Essentially, there is no more copyright protection amongst media related properties, as the music can float around online and be downloaded. For all intents and purposes it shows music is only really, truly valuable as a physical copy. You cannot go into a store and steal a CD like you can download a song online; it isn’t comparable whatsoever. Not only with music but with movies, too. They, as music, no longer need to exist on a physical device.
Labels and musicians CAN and WILL continue to earn revenue off their respective works as well as the other facets of the business (touring, merch, publishing, endorsements, partnerships, etc.) The moment that music began to exist in “ones and zeros” floating around on the internet, that should have been the beginning of a new train of thought. With the right equipment, the technology exists to download some type of pirated shirt design and print it out – but it’s not a widespread problem due to the technology not being that common. Advances in printing technology could be a game changer in this situation and then we would be talking about how live music is the only thing that is left. If this happens, we are screwed.
What hasn’t changed in the business is the element of fame amongst performers. If anything, people are more famous than they have ever been and the intense public interest into their lives 24/7. Social media and the internet literally can stream, in real time, the lives of anyone famous (it doesn’t have to be a musician) and we have an innate obsession with knowing everything about all the people we obsess over and love. Because of this, websites and internet companies are making fortunes – significantly more than record labels. They have revenues of billions each year and those numbers are only increasing. In fact, a company like Facebook reports revenue figures yearly that dwarf that of the entire record industry. For instance, in 2013 Facebook reported over $7 billion in revenues while the ENTIRE recording industry made slightly over $4 billion. It is kind of like comparing apples and oranges but for the sake of trying to prove my theory it’s completely relevant.
These revenues are generated by ad sales, pay per “likes” (in the case of Facebook) but ultimately the end result of the entire process is banking on people’s time, interests and behavioural traits. There are complex algorithms that calculate all the various internet analytics to create finite data and determine which methods earn ridiculously high revenues. But it’s simple: you are on a platform to connect with the rest of the world and while doing so, data is collected to market your interests back to you.
If you are a musician or band you must have some kind of integration on social media platforms – pretty much everyone does. Fans can follow your activities, maybe occasionally interact with you. It’s an amazing situation, but using all these companies’ platforms, they are the ones who earn all the revenue on literally billions of people. There has to be a way to get a piece of the action, right? So musicians are not earning any money on albums and even the touring and merchandise sales have suffered. So, what is there to do about this?
We at All Axess have made it our mission to help to alleviate the change in the music business by helping to cultivate the intellectual property rights that musicians have. By building their own websites and creating a large network, we are able to have the artists create their own online businesses that they can then use to monetize with traffic, advertising, sponsorship and other methods. Massive companies pay institutions like Facebook to advertise to its users and in many cases, evidence shows a massive increase in revenues. The consumer does not part with any money out of their wallet, they only give their time and attention. People’s love for the music and the artist will bring them through to the official sites and we’re placing the revenues earned as a result of that love in the hand of the musician.
I really believe that the solution to all this must come from the inside out. No one really knows what artists go through unless you are one yourself. All Axess is a meeting of the minds to solve a problem that is continuing to spiral out of control. We aren’t going to move forward by trying to correct the past. The only way to improve this situation is to embrace the forthcoming future and to accept that things won’t be the same.