jessevdoom on 11/26/2012 at 12:00AM
We are now more than a decade into the technological revolution that turned the music industry upside down. Initially, it felt like there was so much possibility, that the internet might be the great democratizer, that it could empower artists to take more control over their careers, and ultimately allow them to see more of a percentage of income from their music. There have been some success stories, but it seems the vast majority of artists today are struggling even more, making less money yet paying more middlemen.
Recently musicians have begun to be more open about discussing their shrinking percentages in this music industry food chain. There’s been articles in the past few months about major indie artists that are unable to pay for their own health insurance, bands frustrated with payments they receive via streaming services, and apparently now Cat Power is even facing bankruptcy. When artists are willing to publicly talk about money it means that things are definitely taking a turn for the worse.
People often like to talk about disruption when discussing the music industry but the initial disruption was the easy part, think of it like screaming fire in a crowded theater, it’s actually putting something together after that chaos that is the difficult and interesting work. Every few years we see a different solution touted as the answer. First it was mp3 downloads, then it was internet radio, and now that the cloud is here it’s streaming on demand. This sort of technological determinism is market driven and frankly isn’t necessarily what most artists need or even want.