It must be quite difficult to develop a clear understanding of the frequent financial slights experienced by musicians from the outside looking in. After all, it seems more than evident that music’s most popular performers enjoy access to a lavish lifestyle that few others could ever dream of affording. There is a significant difference, however, between perception and reality when it comes to the economic factors influencing the music industry, and it seems apparent that there is a tremendous need to reevaluate the way music is valued in the current economy.
When most people think of music, they likely perceive it as something they value yet still take for granted on a regular basis. It also seems fair to assert that these same individuals would surely recognize the immediate and negative impact of music’s absence. Similar to the importance of the systems responsible for air conditioning Phoenix, music is an important art form that enriches our lives in ways we don’t always understand completely. Though most people have a deep appreciation for music, it has become increasingly problematic that there exists an apparent unwillingness to pay for access to that music.
Many in the music industry would be quick to point out just how pervasive music is in our daily lives, noting that it is such a constant presence that its absence would radically alter just about every aspect of our lives. Though this may seem like hyperbole, this fact is easily understood by simply spending a single day observing just how frequently music can be heard. Nearly every art form relies on music in some way, but digital advancements have changed the way we access and pay for music, and this has caused a great deal of harm to those who are most responsible for creating music.
There have been a number of estimates that indicate a major shift in the way musicians can be compensated, with 100 million online downloads today being equal to the financial impact of selling 500,000 units during the 1990s. This has an effect on the industry from top to bottom, and the impact is probably most acutely felt by musicians who have not yet achieved a level of notoriety among fans and are therefore forced into accepting deals that offer no hint of long-term financial security. It should be quite clear that the whole industry suffers when so many musicians are unable to earn an income commensurate to their ability level. Outstanding musicians are essentially being forced out of the industry, which limits innovation and hinders the creative processes of many musicians.
While it seems to be clear that there is a significant problem in the music industry and the economics that support it, it is still unclear what solutions are viable for restoring a more realistic value to the music these artists create. Consumers have now become accustomed to having access to unlimited amounts of free music, and attempts made by musicians and other industry professionals to limit this access has only resulted in serious backlash from fans. Perhaps the first step is to educate consumers on the many ways in which the economic factors harm established musicians and also significantly limit the possibilities for new artists to gain a foothold in the industy.
Anyone who wants to see musicians thrive and to continue to have access to this essential and artistic industry should take some time to reflect on the value that music provides to their daily lives. There was a time not too long ago in which consumers were willing to pay a reasonable amount for access to music, so clearly there is inherent value in the music itself. In order for the continued advancement and perhaps even the survival of this art form, there needs to be a radical economic shift in the way consumers view the music industry going forward.