I found another article from The Guardian UK, as the headline grasped my attention immediately: “how streaming saved the music: global industry revenues hit £12bn”. The opening text below then states “second year of growth after recording 40% decline over previous 15 years, with streaming hailed as revitalising sector.”
Reading those two top sections alone, it got me thinking, did streaming actually save the music industry?
Before going in depth as to what the article entails, the first thing that sprung to mind was the decline in vinyl sales, and how vinyl has resurfaced during recent years and has brought major business back into the music industry. Vinyl has reclaimed its popularity and is no longer a dying breed (as opposed to cassette tapes – the OGs, God bless).
This then led me to thinking about the A&R sector within the music industry. During my University career, primarily towards the end of my second year (Feb-March 2016) until present day, I was informed that the A&R sector is becoming a dying breed. When I first came to University I came with the intention to end up working in A&R or Music Publishing, and even before I was told this information about A&R I always leaned more towards publishing regardless.
Anyhow, the reason behind A&R’s endangerment, is purely because music labels around the globe are so behind with the current world and they are still trying to grasp the full reality of online streaming and the use of social media. I was told recently by a supervisor and industry professional that this is the problem with record labels; they will watch a newly-signed talent like Stormzy and observe his rise and how he runs things, then by the time the record label grasp it and catch on they are in a manic search to find another Stormzy, so they shape this clone artist to exactly how they’ve seen (in terms of commercial success and what is new) yet by this point the craze has died down and the new music trend is already in the works – Stormzy junior has no relevance and all the investment into him or her has been a waste of time.
This brings me back to my original question above, so did streaming save the industry after all?
Online streaming has created an opportunity and service for artists and fans to interact with one another on a different wavelength, and to gain access to music has never been easier. Social media supports this massively. As great as online streaming services is and the milestones it has created for the creatives, it is a huge worry for record labels who are currently unable to keep up and wrap their heads around it.
Streaming services has encouraged music lovers to actually pay for music. Looking at Spotify, for example, whereas they are a free service they do offer subscriptions for £4.99 (student) or £8.99 a month in order to gain access to a huge music catalogue – which people seem to be happy to pay for. The problem with streaming is that people aren’t interested in physical copies like CD’s (whereas I still care about them), they are interested in fast, easily-accessible material they can have on demand.
The article I found (link above) states:
“The once-ailing music industry has hit a “historical tipping point”, recording its second year of growth and revenues of $15.7bn (£12.2bn) in 2016, according to a report.
An in-depth look into the health of the music industry by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has shown that in 2016 there was 5.9% growth, mainly attributed to the mass adoption of streaming across the world.”
This proves how streaming has affected the music industry massively, and it’s all good for business. There are no damages to royalties, copyrights, ownerships – all rights & royalties rightfully belong to whomever the material belongs to, streaming just offers more value to an artists’ credibility.
I believe that streaming has contributed MASSIVELY to this music industry as is able to keep up with the fast-changing processes the industry goes through daily. I just hope the originals (record labels, A&R departments) are able to keep up with the times and revise their plans.