A brand new era

The Internet is an unpredictable beast and everyone is just trying to keep up.

Graphic by Joshua Awolade
Graphic by Joshua Awolade

In the wake of the dot-com bubble, the 2000s ushered in a period of various economic structural changes in the music industry. Digital downloads began to replace formats such as CDs, cassettes and vinyl records. Aggregate sales were on the decline as piracy became more prevalent through peer-to-peer networks.

The struggle also metamorphosed in this Internet age; now ranging from strangers on the street handing out mix tapes to the even more intrusive online music spammer. The newfound ease of music consumption and production brought about a level of saturation within the music industry. The processes became less costly, and naturally, upcoming artists were quick to grab the manna as it dropped from the skies. On one hand, music became much more diverse; multiple sub-genres were formed, self-expression was on the rise and it was easier to seek out new forms of music. On the other hand album sales took a hit, decreasing by $8.3 billion between 1999 and 2009. This led artists to increasingly seek out more profitable avenues through touring, merchandising and corporate endorsements.

In addition to the decreased sales, music labels have become less relevant. Much of what was exclusively handled by labels in the past can now be done from the comfort of one’s home at an even faster rate.

There are some opportunities, however, for established artists to expand their global presence and reach previously untapped markets.

Platforms like YouTube, Twitter and Vine have played an integral role in this expansion. Artists effortlessly communicate with fans and receive real time feedback on their music.

The stage is bigger than it’s ever been, yet everyone is still trying to figure out how to get into the limelight. Upcoming artists are struggling and desperately resorting to all sorts of gimmicks, while the more established artists warily attempt to hold on to their respective crowns.

The Internet is an unpredictable beast and everyone is just trying to keep up. In the coming years, the music industry is only going to get more competitive and with that, some of the more traditional dynamics will only continue to break down.

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