Thanks For F******g Us (Part 3)
Thanks For F****** Us (Pt 3)
Maybe we didn’t get f***** after all.
In this section, I’ll talk about why the music industry has actually benefited users and artists and how it led me to build the upcoming competitive discovery platform, Laylo.
Despite the pushback the music industry has against technology, we often forget that it’s only been about 25 years since the internet started entering our homes. Yes, labels could certainly benefit from some of the “startup mentality”, but we can now access nearly every recorded song for $10/month. That kind of access is unprecedented in a conglomerate controlled industry. How many services are you subscribed to just to get a few of the TV shows and movies you want?
When records were first being recorded, formats changed every few years, physical outlets had to be created to distribute the material and radio stations were taking checks to replace disk jockeys with label promoted tracks. This insanity calmed down by the end of the century but only because format standards were established and people cared enough about hearing music that they would sit through car and soda commercials just to hear the next track. Sure, you could avoid this by buying the damn album but how were you supposed to know if you liked it? Ok fine, you could go sit in a record store and listen track by track. Now with a credit card and an internet connection you can listen to music anywhere, anytime.
The most important question now is, will this access be extended to the companies trying to innovate the listening and discovery experience past radio? Options like Spotify’s API are a start but they still have huge limitations both to protect their and their label overlord’s interests.
As music production has become infinitely cheaper, the amount of music being created every day has become infinitely larger. Labels don’t have the time to vet every artist around and the “independent artist ra ra” sentiment has pushed many artists to go out on there own. This created a market for companies like Soundcloud and Bandcamp to build new forms of distribution. This not only helped promote streaming into the general market but it’s also allowed some artists to break free of the label built mold and become stars all on their own. As artists continue searching for better ways to draw listeners in and listeners continue searching for better ways to discover new music, platforms will find their way into the marketplace that help fill the gap that label’s have filled since the 1900's.
There is one very important obstacle that must be overcome in order to keep the music industry moving towards a better place for artists, listeners and the industry as a whole. While subscription platforms are certainly growing every day, free listening platforms like Napster and now Youtube and Pandora are creating an enviornemnt where people don’t feel like their music has monetary value. Yes, free listening certainly draws the crowd away from illegal methods but an equally used argument is that it acts as an trial period before that crowd pays for their music. I see arguments for both sides. After 15 minutes of trying to listen to Spotify and having to hear as many ads as songs, I quickly plugged my credit card info in to protect my ears and brain. The problem is that I’m in the minority. Youtube keeps the a-la-carte crowd cozy while Pandora makes for a better radio experience than radio. If we as consumers are going to ask for a better listening experience, we need to understand the importance of artist’s getting paid. Drake and Adele may be breaking records but 99% of artists aren’t making squat. This is only exacerbated by the fact that that 99% are the artists trying to avoid labels. How are they going to buy a keyboard and microphone if you won’t buy their song and they don’t want to take a loan from a label?
What I hope you’ll realize by the end of these open letters is the music industry is simply a result of human nature. There will always be positives and negatives but our complaints should really be directed at the generation of listeners before us. Even worse, if we want things to change we’ll need to embrace paid streaming before our favorite independent platforms go broke.
If you dig my writing or hate it and want a place to listen find great music to get my voice out of your head, join us at Laylo.