You would think with the amount of money that goes into music studios that they would have actually hired someone who is capable of telling the executives what is really going on. Instead, we have a bunch of studio heads that are so convinced they understand the pulse of the consuming public that they don’t have to listen to anyone, and for some reason they’re losing more and more money every year.
The problem emerged in the beginning when music went from albums to CDs and then online. The old paradigm consisted of music studios finding talent, packaging it and then filtering it out to radio stations that then opened the doors for people to rush to record stores to purchase the brand new content. Well, somewhere down the line that model fell apart, mainly because a few little promises made never came through, and then the industry changed overnight as a result.
What I’m talking about was a promise that the music industry made to consumers when albums were on the out and CDs were coming in. The simple promise was that CDs, which were cheaper to make than albums, were going to be cheaper for customers. This was the selling point to get people to give up their vinyl albums and welcome CDs. The promise was that CDs would cost $9.99 all of the time. Well, when CDs first came out, that WAS the price, and then quickly they started to increase to $13.99 and other such prices. Now, if you’re lucky, a CD can be found “on sale” for $9.99 off of the retail price of much more.
We were lied to. Oh, the naysayers will claim such a promise was never made, but for those of us who were paying close attention back then, the promise definitely was made. Instead of following the plan, executives realized that consumers are stupid, or so they thought, so they just went back on their word and sold CDs for what they figured they could get, rather than for how much it was promised.
A funny thing happened right after that. The Internet showed up. You see, if that never happened, the music industry would still be the major entity it was a few decades ago. But no one anticipated that a couple of geeks at universities wanting to talk to each other would lead to something so powerful and so overwhelming. But the Internet happened, and the music industry was in the wrong place at the right time.
The consumer population was kind of pissed at the music industry at this time because of the whole lie thing, and then when the next generation realized that it could get all of this expensive technology for free, they jumped on it. So two things happened at once. The music industry cheated the older customers by lying to them while the younger customers grew up with a new paradigm where they got everything for free. You see, if the music industry hadn’t lied to the older generation, they might have actually had powerful allies on their side. Instead, they had a bunch of pissed off customers who decided to just let the music industry fend for itself. Where these people could have been the “moral” guides to the younger generation, who wants to be the moral guides to people who are doing something you figure the bad guys deserve anyway?
Well, the music industry sat it out, thinking things would fall back in place, but their real ally, musicians jumped ship on them as well. Oh sure, the established musicians were in their corner, but consumers are a fickle sort, dumping old artists for new ones because music really doesn’t have standards that are controlled by executives. Music is music and people will seek it wherever it can be found.
And a lot of future musicians realized that if they wanted to make it in the industry, there was a new direction to take, one that required they take their music directly to the people. This opened up the industry to everyone, and as more and more independent artists showed up, the music industry had less and less control over the content.
That’s kind of where we are today. The music industry is trying to save itself by reestablishing the controls, but no one really cares anymore. There was an attempt to force streaming content under draconian rules, but music executives are starting to realize that this isn’t leading to sales. What the music industry never realized was that the future was going to be somewhat of a free for all because if you can’t trust the industry to do what they promise, then you look elsewhere for results.
Recently, I bought a CD for the first time in about a year. Yeah, it’s been that long. I’m still pissed. It was Taylor Swift’s new album, and it was on sale for $9.99. Imagine that. Anyway, it’s a great CD, but it’s probably the only one I’ll buy for at least another year. I’m one of their solid customers, and it’s taken a long time to bring me back to the market. Before I stopped buying music, I used to buy three or four albums a week. They’ll never regain the market share they had before. It’s just not going to happen.
Like I said, the music industry lied back when it needed to win over its customer base. So, hopefully as these executives find new jobs mowing lawns, or whatever it is unemployed music executives are capable of doing, they’ll remember it was really their fault. And they should keep in mind that if they promise to mow someone’s lawn and then go back on their promise, they’re probably not going to get paid. The real world is kind of mean that way.