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Changes in the music industry – what next?

September 24, 2018

SAotV Sep 2018

Formats

We’ve been releasing music since 1988. That’s a long time. We’ve seen scenes, formats, fashions and styles come and go.

We caught the tail end of the cassette trader scene, then the start of CDs. We saw the start, heyday and decline of mp3s and now the decline of downloads in any format. We have seen the start of streaming and we continue to watch and participate in the changes in the music world.

Sales and downloads

We never sold many cassettes. We didn’t sell many CDs and now we literally can’t give them away. We had more success with downloads, never selling many but achieving small but respectable numbers of downloads using a business model that combined Creative Commons share-as-you-like with pay-what-you-like. However, our Bandcamp downloads are drying up fast, despite us releasing new material regularly.

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Ch-ch-ch-changes

Music business stats now show sales of physical media disappearing fast. Sales of downloads are dropping rapidly too. It seems everyone is streaming now. It seems over half of music is consumed on streaming services these days, generally legal and with either free or subscription services.

Streams

So we have reluctantly started uploading our music to Spotify and Apple Music. We will literally make no money ever from that but it has to be done if we ever want anyone to hear our music.  Fortunately we have day jobs.  Currently we pay an aggregator to add our music to these platforms so it costs us more than we make. However, Spotify has just announced that it will shortly be making direct, cost-free, uploading available to artists.

People

Our audience is two thirds male, one third female, and aged largely between 22 and 59. They are mostly in the USA and the UK but there are small numbers across the rest of the world.  Apparently, YouTube is a main source of new music for the under 20s but our fans do not go there for their music. We like making videos but perhaps we should not put too much effort into doing so in future.

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Albums and playlists

The album as a concept is almost dead in this new music scene. It has been replaced with playlists. We’re exploring that concept; it is an interesting development and we’re not ideologically opposed to it.

As we currently pay to get on Spotify, it makes no sense to upload all our old albums individually. Instead, we’re compiling our best tracks from previous releases and uploading them as “albums” but really the idea is to treat each track as a potential addition our own or others’ playlists.

The playlist concept is dependent on fans following and sharing the playlist or adding tracks to their own playlists. Because we make very niche genre music it is very unlikely we will ever get on the bigger, official, sponsored playlists. We are dependent on our fans’ enthusiasm and commitment.

We will continue to make music and we’ll see what happens.

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