Listeners have more access to music more easily than ever before. Not only that, but they also have an unprecedented level of control over what they listen to. No longer are fans forced to sit by the radio or call in requests to their local DJ. Nowadays most fans are able to find their favorite artists on demand through a variety of streaming platforms. While this has been great for music lovers everywhere, artists are still learning to adapt to an ever-changing industry in the information age.
It’s also been great that artists can connect with their fans more directly than ever before, but a side-effect of this accessibility is the adverse impact on album sales. Musicians have become forced to rely more heavily on streaming, which often yields a fraction of the profits to all but the biggest artists. As a result, it’s even more difficult for bands to make a living solely from their releases. Streaming is arguably one of the best and worst things to happen to musicians in the last decade. In many ways, streaming has provided a freedom from the typical album format to allow artists the leeway to experiment with daring new sounds. For fans, it has provided access to all their favorite tunes at their fingertips, and often for free.
And it looks as though streaming will only continue to grow as the preferred mode of consumption for most listeners. It was recently announced that Tesla, (the electric auto giant, not the heavy metal band), could be launching its own streaming service dedicated to its futuristic cars. The company is apparently in talks with major labels to create an in-car entertainment service that might operate on a monthly or yearly subscription model similar to Amazon Prime. The manufacturer already has a deal with Spotify in some markets, but with its own service it could create a valuable additional revenue stream. Also, if they pay artists a little more fairly than Spotify, it could be a winning situation for everyone involved.
The issue with many streaming services often comes down to the payouts. In many cases, smaller artists receive a pittance for their efforts, and they’re no longer able to rely on music sales to provide a stable and reliable source of income. The same can also be said for most established acts looking to court the interest of a much younger and technologically savvy audience.
In order to find a way to connect with new listeners while also widening their streams of income, licensing has turned into a lucrative option for bands hoping to expand beyond album sales and touring. And this goes far beyond letting a song be used in a commercial or a movie soundtrack. Some artists have begun loaning out their likenesses to online video games, which allows them to profit from their notoriety and extend their reach to a new audience. These online slot reels feature a variety of bands with artists like Jimi Hendrix and Guns N’ Roses highlighted at the reviews for popular casinos. These games feature the artists themselves along with some of their biggest hits to create a new means of appealing to old fans while making a few new ones along the way. The end result is an innovative way to increase exposure while capitalizing on an established back-catalog. As acts continue to set up these kinds of deals, it wouldn’t be surprising to see it spread across the industry.
The digital revolution in music will likely prove to be a positive for everyone, and it’s only natural that there would be some growing pains along the way. Artists will continue to learn how to best take advantage of the resources provided by streaming and the virtually endless licensing opportunities. And we predict that things are going to work our for enterprising musicians in the long run.