Which side do you take in the debate over the state of the music industry?
One side believes we are living in the Golden Era of Music, as almost everything about the industry is expanding—access, opportunity, and fame.
Those on the other side believe the industry is going the way of the dinosaurs. Major record labels are disappearing and have little to offer. Orchestras that depend on volunteer and public funding are struggling. The road to stardom is blocked at the top. These are dark times for the future of music. They say.
I say, nonsense.
You bet, everything about music is changing, but what doesn’t? The old ways give way to the new, and those that keep up flourish and those that don’t … well, trees have to be pruned to grow.
Here are some reasons why I think music is in good shape and getting better:
- More people have more access to music than ever before. Anywhere in the world, you’re just an internet connection away from whatever you want to hear from goth punk to Götterdämmerung.
- More channels give people more ways to tune into music. You can still go to performances, but that once was the only way to experience music, unless you played yourself. Then came radio, records, television, tape, and CDs. Those channels are all around, but now there is satellite radio, digital downloads, live webcasts, on-demand video streaming, and mobile devices. The media list goes on. And on. And on.
- More opportunities to experiment with music. Twenty years ago, most of us identified primarily with one style of music. “I love country.” “Hip hop’s my bag.” “Consider me an opera fanatic.” “I’m a jazz man.” But now, in this age of streaming and shuffling, anybody can try anything anytime they want. The hippest folks are cultural omnivores.
- More ways to the top because more accessibility, more channels, and more opportunities to sample different genres opens a lot of doors for middle-level artists. There will always be the Beyonces, but now there are a lot of more solid talents getting the attention they deserve.
- More ways to get involved with the music, including interactive concerts that let fans post comments or photos on their favorite group’s blog. They want to vote for the next members of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. They love to mash up tracks from interesting groups and post them on streaming music channels.
- The artist perspective. It is now easier and less expensive to record music, disseminate music, and market music than ever before. It is no longer necessary to have the backing of a major record label or management to create an international reputation. Savvy musicians can do this largely from their own home.
Music is everywhere. Music is healthy. Music is thriving. Music is celebrating.
So the next time you feel depressed about all the gloom and doom, take that energy and focus it on finding positive solutions. Look for the bright spots.
The paradigm is shifting, clearly. Those that embrace the change will prosper. Those who resist will sound like the person sitting on the park bench lamenting, “This doesn’t hold a candle to the way it was back in the day.”
So, asking again: Which side do take in the debate?