Poor music industry. Things really just keep getting harder and harder for them. Part of the problem now is that, for a while, the industry went through a bit of a ‘golden age’ that will probably never be repeated again but is still longed for by artists and executives. The public was happy to spend lots of money on plastic disks (and tapes before that) that cost nothing to make and were difficult to reproduce. Then everything changed. The industry just watched and kept trying to sell their plastic disks, even as everyone else started moving to MP3 files and sharing. Imagine how different the music industry might be today, if the record labels themselves had pushed for individual song downloads at low prices? They could even have developed mp3 players, much as the online bookstores are doing today with eReaders.
For smaller (but still known) artists, there was still the opportunity to make money through concerts. These were fairly easy to promote across the small and focused band of music media – channels such as MTV, magazines such as Rolling Stone.
These days, however, music media has splintered. Fragmented. MTV now has more reality shows than music. The few music magazines have turned into dozens of websites, blogs, radio shows, podcasts etc. For a small artist, it is very difficult to purchase enough ad space across all these networks to connect with the target audience.
This is forcing artists to look for innovate ways to further their careers.
- Buy a concert ticket at a slightly higher price
- Get a free digital copy of the new album
- At the end of the tour, get 8 exclusive live tracks
This is an awesome idea, check out how everyone benefits:
1. The record label should be making some money from the ticket sales, in exchange for giving away the album.
2. The record label gets the contact details of fans, who are willing to buy concert tickets. This gives them perfectly targeted data for future sales efforts for either this artist, or similar ones.
3. The concert ticketing company gets good marketing support to help them promote the tour. Rather than just a ticket, it is now ticket + album.
4. For the performer, it means that the fans are already familiar with the album when they come for the concert, which creates a much better atmosphere at the event.
The only people who don’t benefit are the retail stores that would be selling the album, but since that is a rapidly fading market anyway, its hard to justify supporting something that needs to change its sales model. In India, most of the music stores are transforming to music/film/mobile/gaming.
The structure of this entire industry is quite different in India for a number of reasons:
1. Almost all popular music is from films. The music supports the film marketing and the film supports the music.
2. The audience is often unaware of who wrote or performed individual tracks. For live performances, the audience often prefers to see an actor from the film lip synching on stage, rather than the actual singer singing.
3. Because of the sheer amount of film music produced, it is difficult to get airplay for or promote independent, non-film music.
4. India doesn’t have a strong industry for paid performances. Despite the massive population, the big Indian cities have less than a 10th of the number of live shows each week that you would find in any large developed city. Further, only a tiny percentage of the Indian shows are paid. Most are free. This makes it very difficult for musicians to earn a living.
5. The few venues that actively promote live music are highly selective in their programming, allowing perhaps only English language music, or reserving most slots for international groups.
Things are slowly changing. As the middle class grows, interests in music will mature and diversify, and people will be more willing to pay for performances. It will be interesting to see how the media develops to support this.