Technology is one of the greatest developments and achievements in our modern age; and it greatly impacts the music industry in many positive ways. With the vast popularity of the world wide web, artists can now introduce their music to thousands or even millions of prospective fans through services like YouTube or SoundCloud; whereas previously, they need to submit a demo to a record company and undergo massive touring to promote their music. With third-party music distributors such as Google Play Music and Apple iTunes, artists are now given the opportunity to independently produce digital copies of their music and generate income from it. However, the rise of technology also led to a decline in music album sales. As proven by the January 2014 sales figure recorded by Nielsen SoundScan, album sales in the United States declined by 4% in 2012 and 8% in 2013. Fans are no longer acquiring actual copies of collectible albums, since they can now simply listen to their favorite hits through YouTube and through a myriad of on-demand music streaming services worldwide.
For this entry, let’s take a look at some of the recent developments in music technology as well as the various ways on how the industry can leverage these innovations.
iTunes And YouTube Era
Music enthusiasts who are unable to pay for digital purchases (at a minimum rate of $0.99 per song on iTunes) would simply resort to free music streaming services nowadays, as pointed out by Global Tech Spot. Though, these services are convenient, how can the industry make money out of it? Their solution is to implement advertising-based free streaming options. In such a way, they can still monetize their music through a third-party advertiser or agency such as iTunes and Google Play Music. Some services, such as the ones offered by Vimeo, Deezer, and SoundCloud, are also following the same services to generate income. Yes, they allow their members to stream music for free, but they are given limited access only (fixed number of skips for forced playlists, video and audio ads between songs, and the inability to save music for offline playing). For them to enjoy the following options, they will be charged a certain premium fee to unlock the features.
Rise Of Optical Music Recognition Software
Without spending a significant amount of resources for promoting their albums, record labels and independent music producers can use optical music recognition software such as Shazam and Sounhound to help music enthusiasts find them, instead of reaching out to them. They can submit copies of their music in the extensive database of Soundhound and Shazam to make searching for their music easier through the given relevant information about the track. As reiterated by the experts from O2, the Soundhound made it easier to locate even the most obscure music online. The O2 Guru even considered it as ‘a real game changer,’ among their list of music apps.
Music Leasing Through On-Demand Streaming Channels
If both the artists and producers are finding it difficult to promote and sell their singles or albums through physical and online music stores, they can simply submit their compositions to on-demand music streaming services such as Spotify, Rdio, and Beats music. If they pass the standards maintained by these music distributors, their titles will soon be included in their playlist catalog. In turn, their submitted compositions can be easily accessed/shared by their members who paid for their premium subscriptions. Also known as the process of ‘music leasing,’ this venture allows members to borrow or rent digital music copies onto their account legally without having to own and purchase them. Producers and artists receive payments based on a fraction from the subscriptions as opposed to actual record sales.
Augmented Reality Music Videos
One way to entice music fans to purchase an album is to bring a more visually rich and impressive music video experience to the fans. With the rise of Augmented Reality (AR) technology, producers are given the opportunity to create 3D music videos that work like magic. Studio B teamed with Adobe and American artist John Mayer, to create the world’s first ever Augmented Reality music video project. As a requisite to enjoy the video, users need a smartphone with a 3D AR App scanner. By simply pointing the scanner to an AR marker found on its album cover, users can watch a live 3D simulation of John Mayer performing with a band straight on their mobile screen.
There is no denying that the rise of technology poses a great threat to music producers. The wide spread of file-sharing services online can definitely lead to a decline in their album sales. But, when music technologies are properly leveraged, it can also be an added advantage on their part.