Biggest Changes in the Music Industry So Far (And Things that Still Need to Change) 
Thu, April 22, 2021

Biggest Changes in the Music Industry So Far (And Things that Still Need to Change) 

Music consumption has changed over the years. Since people started buying directly from artists through their recorded albums and CDs, the larger music consumer market has evolved to be more accepting of the advent of streaming / Photo by: Nejron Photo via Shutterstock

 

Music consumption has changed over the years. Since people started buying directly from artists through their recorded albums and CDs, the larger music consumer market has evolved to be more accepting of the advent of streaming. 

Why would they not? It’s more convenient. But this change has actually taken a toll on many musicians, so much so that older musicians are having a hard time appreciating the way the music industry has become. 

Streaming and Digital Music

Streaming music is the biggest change in the music industry and depending on which side you are on -- the music consumer or the musician -- you would probably view it a certain way. From the view of the musician, no truer words were said by Slash, the lead guitarist of the American band Guns N’ Roses, who commented that the streaming industry has only been disadvantageous to them.

On The Brag, a website that offers food, travel, comedy, and culture articles, Slash talked about how streaming has “killed the music industry.” 

“So now, we’ve basically come out of it with these streaming services, but they don’t pay anywhere near the royalties that buying a CD or record pays. It’s definitely hurt the music business in a big way,” Slash says. 

And he’s not wrong. Spotify and Apple Music have run into exploitation problems before. On top of that, Spotify has also been accused of engineering streaming data to no-name artists by forcefully pushing their music onto the listener's playlists, even though they haven’t listened to them before. While this may be written off as merely a technical issue, it hasn’t stopped the rise of streaming. 

According to music news website The Music Network, since launching in 2008, Spotify has gone from a $20.9 million worth of total market share in 2013 to $375 million worth total market in 2018. That’s a 43.75% increase in the last few years. 

Streaming music is the biggest change in the music industry and depending on which side you are on -- the music consumer or the musician -- you would probably view it a certain way / Photo by: Rawpixel.com via Shutterstock

 

Physical Music 

Slash’s statement rings true when you look at IFPI data that records that music consumption via physical sales at the start of the millennium has gone down throughout the years. It was by 2010 that it started to lose its dominance, “although it was still responsible for $US9 billion of industry revenue.” 

There has been a decline there ever since. In numbers, an ARIA report has recorded that there were 26 million physical units that were sold in 2010, and recently, that number has dropped to 7 million. That’s a 22% decline from the start of the millennia. Interestingly, at the same time that physical music sales are declining, vinyl sales seem to be breaking through the scene as some sort of unsung hero for physical sales. 

It’s still just got a small 3.6% market share but it’s still worth noting that this market share has been consistently growing since 2018. 

The Social Media Connection 

In a comedy set, comedian Moses Storm lamented -- hilariously -- the struggle of getting people to pay attention to any kind of art form. In his set, it was the art of comedy he was referring to, but the same principles can be applied to the world of music. He said that doing comedy has been reduced to the actual comedian doing their own advertising on social media in a number of outrageous ways to compete with other forms of media that take up people’s attention. 

The same can be said of the music world. This is why artists are recently more concerned and active on social media, specifically over on Instagram. 

“Instagram has also been a force in music this decade,” The Music Network report reads. “As well as providing a platform for artists to share some of their most viral content, users have sent songs like Drake’s “In My Feelings” viral through the platform.” 

Twitter, on the other hand, is more of a “playground for artist superfans,” birthing what is called “stan Twitter,” or a cluster of people creating Twitter accounts for the sole purpose of following and promoting their idol. It’s a level that most pop stars reach fairly easily and has honestly been effective in drawing attention to album drops and upping TV show ratings, thanks to a little something called “engagement.” 

Get enough engagement and it’s virtually easy for you to stay on the right track to stardom. Or, well, become amazing enough at your art that each album drop of yours generates millions of tweets. 

Persistent Problem: Sexism

On streaming and social media self-advertisement, problems will likely still arise, but one big problem that seems to be consistently pervasive in the industry is the amount of bigotry that most LGBT artists still encounter. 

Some would argue that modern times have set straight the many outdated accusations and claims made against the community, but according to British singer Sam Smith, not much has actually changed. According to his interview with Pink News, a UK-based online newspaper catering to the LGBT community, he reasons that after coming out as non-binary: 

“Being my feminine self in this world that we’re in, I mean the music industry can be a bit homophobic, a bit sexist at times.”