It’s no secret that I’m a digital enthusiast. I like to share what I do and I take advantage of any medium that allows me to do so. However I have to admit that I’m always taken aback when people wholeheartedly defend methods that are unfit to succeed in the digital age. When something doesn’t work as its supposed to, isn’t time to question it? At the very least, shouldn’t you understand why it’s not working?
I’m baffled at most attempts by the music industry to ‘deal’ with online piracy. ACTA, SOPA, PIPA and even suing fans! Although I agree that not paying for something that you should pay for is wrong, blocking a couple of sites won’t really make a difference. If the industry wasn’t so hell-bent on making the same amount of profits as in the 90s (when everyone replaced their music collection with CDs), who knows where we’d be now?
So what is the solution? Well for one thing I believe that trying to fit the digital world in an obsolete business model is the wrong approach (read here for Pete Townshend’s solution…which I feel is pretty archaic and out of touch). Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine everyone spending $10-15 on CDs. The market has many split into different segments: The ones that buy CDs or pay to download the whole album, the ones that buy one song from an album, the ones that stream (and that includes YouTube) and the ones that download illegally. A mix of all isn’t unheard of either. Therefore many different models need to cater to these segments. I believe that we need to encourage companies like Spotify and MOG, which offer very different ways of consuming music. However, Spotify has received numerous criticism for poor payment to artists and speculation that it cannibalizes album sales. Its founders insist that the long-term results will be more promising, so we’ll just have to wait and see. In addition, recent studies have argued that streaming services create a new market segment (users who would normally download illegally) and in fact many digital sell through stores (such as iTunes) should offer download AND streaming (#1 and #2).
I admit that the payments I receive from Spotify are pretty insignificant, but it’s great in terms of discovery and sharing music with friends. I welcome this change and I’ve also taken the time to fully explore it. I didn’t get it before, preferring to own the music rather than stream it. But as one of its co-founders said in an interview, the future isn’t about ownership but accessibility. I have to admit that I’m now hooked! I’ve discovered many new artists that I would’ve never heard of otherwise. In an age where everyone has something to offer, it’s great to be able to discover things easily and not have major players dictate what we should listen to. And this is certainly an exciting prospect for indie artists!