For nearly 10 years, the recording industry has been plagued by uncertainty over how to adapt to new technologies which have dramatically changed the traditional methods of selling recorded music — in a nutshell, the transition from ‘physical’ products such as vinyl records or CDs, sold to the consumer as singles or albums, to the downloading of random tracks to home computers or mobile phones, often for no payment.
The downloading statistics, attendance at live concerts, the success of musical talent shows on television and of musical video games are all reminders of how important music is to society, irrespective of the technology involved or the channels of delivery to the consumer.
One in five UK adults describe music as a “main hobby” (either playing, watching live or building a collection), but a much higher proportions of the population say that they listen to music every day, listen to it on the radio regularly or enjoy browsing in music shops, and 45.6% of homes contain a musical instrument (with just over a quarter of adults able to play one).
But how do people listen to music today? The recent disruption in the high street market distribution has been obvious with many stores such as HMV closing down. This is a clear indication that people have switched from buying CDs & DVDs to buying singular tracks or albums in a digital format. I am one of those people who stopped buying CDs a long time ago, when I realised how frustrated I was by having to buy an entire album for just one or two songs I liked.
The pioneer in the field of legally downloading individual songs was iTunes. It has revolutionised the market and has addressed the piracy problem that came with the development of the internet in a very smart way. People were now able to buy just one song and listen to it on their favourite device. Well, that is of course if their favourite device was an “iProduct”. However, considering that only 39% of all smartphone users rely on their Apple device it was clear that there was room for some other big players in this market. The first one to dig into the big pie of MP3 revenue was Napster 2.0, a re-furbished version of the previously popular illegal downloading programe, Napster.
Streaming websites have also made themselves available for a share of the big pie. Of the most popular ones I would mention LastFM, 8Tracks, We7. They act as a sort of online radio station, with the difference that you can choose what type of music to listen to, skip to a different song, and in exchange for a small monthly fee you can get the music without any annoying ads or interruptions. My favourite one, however is Spotify. I like many things about it and the following post will be dedicated to it.
Have a delicious day!