The world moves much faster today than it did at the dawn of the music industry. Technology has been instrumental in that evolution. No one would dispute the fact that the Internet has changed the music industry into being almost unrecognizable to the industry of the past. In fact, things continue to change at such a rapid rate that the music business is still struggling to keep up. From early issues like illegal downloading and music sharing sites (like the now-defunct Napster) to current disputes over music streaming services and how much the artists/labels should be paid in royalties, the Internet still seems to be raising more questions than it is answering. However, where there are problems, there are solutions. For the enterprising individual who has drive, willpower, and a hunger for creativity… There’s room to make interesting things happen. While the Internet has made music more accessible to the public, it’s made it more difficult for artists to make money. Which means, if you want to be a recording artist, you need to have grit. You need to be someone who’s looking for the corners and the places that offer open opportunities.
How the Music Industry Has Changed with the Internet
Despite what it might appear, at first glance, the internet is also an incredible tool that enables independent musicians to find a global audience. If they’re the right type of person, they can do this without the help and backing of a major label. In short, if you want to be a person in the industry today, you have to be all in. Let’s take a look at how the positives and negatives play out in real life. It’s easy to say that the internet has messed things up, but what does that really mean? Let’s start with THE BAD. While huge segments of the public are excited about the simple fact that the internet has enabled people to quickly and effectively get their hands on music, this comes at a massive cost. Or rather… cost reduction. Music today is just cheap. It’s disposable. It’s viewed as free. People spend more time stealing music than they do listening to it, in a lot of cases. Piracy and low streaming royalties have fundamentally changed the way artists get paid off of their creative work. With the dominance of Spotify, Pandora, and other music streaming services, who offer either ad-based or paid subscriptions, this fact isn’t going to be changing anytime soon.
Changes in the Music Industry–For the Better
THE GOOD, almost paradoxically, is that the internet is egalitarian. You can be everywhere at once. You can find a niche, produce content for it, and accrue fans, all by yourself. There’s an old adage “Familiarity breeds loyalty” and the internet allows contemporary artists to accomplish just that. Cultivating a tiktok following, or any digital following, is easier today than it has ever been. The same Internet that has caused all the problems, is going to be the solution. If you’re a young entrepreneur, you’re going to need to have all the tools for success right in front of you. It’s not about fighting for the rights to your masters, like it used to be. It’s about leveraging your social following to buy tickets to see you live. In many ways, the music industry “machine” is dead. It only services the top 1% of artists. And for every Drake or Taylor Swift that benefits from that system there are legions of other artists who have found success doing it themselves. That’s the ultimate answer to the question of “How Has The Internet Changed Music,” it freed it from the grasp of literal gangsters. Yes, it has made certain areas harder to find success within, but it’s absolutely made having a career in music, on your own terms possible.