New Industry Life in the World of Music Streaming

As we reflect on the past year, it’s hard to deny that change is inevitable. As hard as we struggle to hold onto the past, it’s going to change and leave us in it’s wake if we don’t adapt. As a music artist my whole life, I’ve been around to witness a large amount of the biggest changes in music: vinyl, cassette tapes, CD’s, digital downloads and now streaming. Technology rules and the mystery has been pretty much destroyed all together.

On the money side of things, artists have continuously seen the revenue for their craft go down and down like a warplane that has been hit and is spiralling out of control. However, for music as a whole, it’s not all bad. In 1999 worldwide physical sales were 25.2 billion dollars with obviously no streaming revenue. We don’t have our 2018 numbers in just yet, but last year the global physical sales was a mere shadow of itself at 5.2 billion dollars. That is still a decent number though in this day and age. 2017 also marked the first time in history that streaming revenue beat physical music revenue with a total number of $6.6 billion dollars.

We’ve seen this trend growing over the past few years and it will be interesting to see where the numbers fall at the end of 2018. The global recorded music market grew by 8.1% in 2017, marking the third year in a row of growth since IFPI began tracking the market in 1997. Driven by fan’s engagement with streaming, digital revenues now account for more than 54% of the global recorded music market. Major labels have clawed their way to the top again by embracing the streaming era and running with it.

Now, we sit, reflect, and wonder. How will this continue to affect artists?

The music industry is still alive and well but somewhere along the line the artists worth has gone down. If music trends stay the course we will see fewer and fewer new artists rise to the top. Artists are now waiting for their saviour. Someone large enough and gutsy enough to stand up and say this cannot happen anymore. Most people would probably be blown away by the amount of work that goes into being a music artist and building a career out of it. There isn’t enough room in this article to even start writing about it. Just like any job out there though, musicians have their worth and right now it’s being taken for granted.

With the outlets that we all have in this day and age, people are listening to music now more than ever before, so where is the money going? Spotify is worth $20 billion. Universal Music Group, the worlds largest label may be worth more than that. People are paying for music again and retail sales are climbing. Again though, where is the money going? Here’s some math: Spotify pays about $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream to the holder of music rights. And the "holder" can be split among the record label, producers, artists, and songwriters. It’s hard to even know what to say after reading that.

Music is a part of my everyday life, and has been one of the most important factors of making me who I am. Music artists are worth as much to society as any other career. They need our support more than ever now. Catch as many live shows as you can, continue buying their music on iTunes and the artists websites and spread the word about how hard they work and the respect they deserve. We all listen to music, someone has to make it, and get what they deserve for doing so.