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The music industry is an odd, ever changing world with a million different pockets. Technology has changed the entire business by eliminating the prevalence of physical CD sales, and streaming services have even challenged the giant that is file sharing.
This has led to companies like Spotify making a giant name for themselves, a revolutionary but out of reach idea in years past.
It has also led to independent artists making their primary income through live performances and merchandise sales, as opposed to music sales in stores or online. We’re not at the end though — entrepreneurship is the backbone of the world we live in, and no matter what happens, innovation has even more in store for us.
If you look at Music Entrepreneur HQ’s Essential Guide to Musicpreneurship, you’ll quickly discover that musicpreneurs are not only artists, but anyone who chooses to innovate within the music industry. It simply requires you to find a need to be met and a good idea on how to meet it.
So, what will happen in the world of music? There are some needs aching to be met, and while nobody for sure knows how, here are what may be some reasonable predictions!
Ethics Will be King
Being an entrepreneur in any industry requires a lot of research, and is the cross section of creativity, legal knowledge, and having an understanding of what will sell.
But in this day and age, there’s a new factor emerging — ethics. With the world becoming politically and ethically polarized, people are looking to music for a place to make a stand again.
Artists and fans alike are going to become more aware of how they source their merchandise, the companies they support, and corporate giants that push their tunes to the world.
Musicpreneurs will be testing their ideas against a rigorous code of ethics determined by their audience as well as the general public. There will be less room for misuse of labor, affiliation with bigoted people or organizations, and cheating of artists.
Convenience will still be important, and it will still sell, as it always does. But ethics will be there with a notepad and pencil as well.
Independent Artists Will Have to Utilize Technology
Independent artists are competing with technology at this point, which typically dictates the reach of their music. Even if they blow up on Bandcamp, the number of tracks and albums an independent artist will sell are nothing compared to what they were before the file sharing and streaming eras.
In the book Your Band Sucks by Jon Fine, the author speaks of selling mere thousands of copies in the post-millenium era, where artists selling twenties of thousands of records was considered low. A young artist would be lucky to have 20,000 song plays, and even then, they’re only paid about a sixth of a cent per play.
Since technology is primarily how people find music nowadays, artists are commonly roaming social media and doing what they can to get their music listened to on streaming services and the like.
But it’s possible that the next entrepreneurial feat in music will be streamlining the grassroots processes artists face while starting up.
For instance, travel prices. There’s a small handful of bands performing maintenance on their vehicles to run on grease as opposed to gas, which saves money and is eco-friendly (ethics, remember?).
Additionally, there are companies renting vans out to artists who cannot afford them, and they can be booked online.
And, how many artists do you know that record at home? Utilizing technology is a must, and a smart entrepreneur will look at what artists and listeners need and use technology to streamline it for them.
Nostalgia Will Keep Making a Scene
While there are several ways to make money from music, the payoff is dependent on careful and calculated decisions. How you market something will change from product to product, but one thing to keep in mind is whether or not people need something new or whether they’re looking for something old. Nostalgia gets people jazzed.
If you want to be a smart entrepreneur in entertainment, you will learn how to capitalize on nostalgia and familiarity. This has become apparent with the vinyl boom, endless slews of reunion tours and records, and every musical comparison you see for a new artist (Artist Name, recommended if you like: artists you already made up your mind about).
Take record labels for instance. Anybody who chooses to start and run a record label has to adapt with the changing technology, and anybody who’s done it for a number of years knows that.
From streaming to the production of physical copies and the new vinyl resurgence, to including download codes with each copy sold, navigating technological changes and the consumer’s tendencies toward nostalgia is an art form that requires a lot of practice — and nobody is perfect at it.
This is just how humans are, and it’s what will sell. People are always talking about the good ol’ days, or becoming disenfranchised with new things once they becomes overdone or too trendy. Ideally, you can adapt a sound, technology, or musical trend from older times to modern day technology. You can reinvent the wheel, and that’s how society progresses.
When the times keep changing, the world of music reflects and reacts to it. What trends do you see in the future for musical entrepreneurs? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below.