The music industry has undergone significant changes in the last twenty years. Even today it feels like a digital Wild West, where the plains are open to anyone with a horse and a six-shooter. This is not far from truth. In the years ahead, there are likely to be more changes that significantly impact the way we listened to, purchase, make, and distribute. All of these things are positives to the consumer and to the artist if viewed in the right light:
Open playing field for lesser known artists: Lesser known artists have in the Internet a cheap, easy-to-use viral marketing forum for their music and their performances. Never before has it been so easy to reach so many millions of people at such a low cost. Of course, you can not just assume that if you put your work online, people will find it. You have to focus on pointing them in the right direction. Fortunately, that takes more man-hours than dollars.
Chance for quality to outshine marketing: Record companies used to tell consumers what they would like based on the marketing machine. And while marketing is still an important part of any business endeavor, it's no longer in the position to outshine quality. Again, the best music in the world will not have a chance of finding an audience if it does not get into the hands of the right people, so marketing is essential, but people today are smarter when it comes to what is being pushed upon them, and they will usually pick quality over clever gimmicks. After all, clever today is not what it used to be. It intertwines with worthwhile product.
Cheaper production costs equal consumer appreciation: No more colorful packaging, plastic keepscases, and shiny discs for the music industry of the future. Digital downloads have already overtaken the CD industry. They will continue to do so as faster Internet speeds make it even easier to download music at cheaper costs.
Embrace digital over brick-and-mortar: Music stores of the future will find ways to embrace digital business over brick-and-mortar if they hope to survive. In many ways, it can mean a larger profit margin. No longer will stores have to pay music associates when everything you need to know, and everything you want to buy, is online. Brick-and-mortar may still have a market for collectors and nostalgia buffs, but it is not the wave of the future.
Speaking to digital music versus CD purchasing, there are too many conveniences for consumers and companies alike for the brick-and-mortar stores to continue in prominence. While some may find it impersonal and unappealing, those who embrace the change – whether artists, or consumers, or retail outlets – will find a new world ready for new ideas and infinite possibilities.