We’ve been announcing the end of music industry (as we used to know it) since more than 10 years. Piracy killed everybody in the business, new technologies is feeding profusely our crave for melodies, journalists were portraying artists just finishing their last piece of work, lying in the gutter. It seems that the situation is obviously getting really bad for music and entertainment professionals. This is what everybody will say to you. This is what each of us mourns the grandiose music world that we cherished for so many years. But, just think twice, maybe piracy and new technologies reinvent an industry that had to change, challenged the existing paradigm, finally delivering a stronger creativity and a more personal way to share artistic mastery.
This is the music industry as we loved it (see infographics). Do you really think that,considering the emergence of the technologies, the increasing access to content or the democratisation of devices for the new generation, this business model would have survived? And think about the artists that we portray as the victims of the story, do you really think they would continue to accept this situation? Honestly.
I may shock you here but we’re a lot to think that piracy (Pirate Bay, Bittorrent, MegaUpload, Napster and other partners in crime…) pushed the artists to be more creative and enhanced the music on all its possible forms. For the pleasure of our ears:
– more creative through content – Beyonce released an album only through iTunes and she delivered her work with a video clip for each song. The album was one of the fastest selling-albums of history, rewarding the fans through a totally exciting experience and some additional content. So did Bjork with her album Biophilia. And she did again something really interesting with some music videos lately – enhanced through the Oculus Rift technology http://www.engadget.com/2015/02/28/bjork-vr-music-video/. Another example was the release of Beck Hansens’ Song Reader, which consisted of sheet music. If you want to hear the music, the fans were supposed to play it by themselves. Challenging, right…
– more creative through business – we all remember Radiohead creating their own business model while asking to the fans to pay what they wanted to pay for their last opuses. And I’m sure you can help me to find some other case studies.
– more creative through channels – we can argue with each of the platform but let’s be clear that the intention is honest and delivers better experience, from Youtube to Tidal, from Spotify to Google Play. We can talk here about better quality of sound, better integration to our devices, better choice to discover new artists, better spreading of the creation…A different model where you don’t own music but you just experience it.
– more creative through promotion – a couple of examples here as well, examples that most of us know already. We can talk about the successful launch of the latest Jay Z album with Samsung (the album was offered to all the Samsung selected owners few days before and with a full bunch of exclusive content) or this clever partnership between Arcade Fire and Google (html5) for the launch of their new album (you have to do it for yourself http://www.thewildernessdowntown.com). And the role of the brands might be key here, all must be done with the respect of the content and the artist obviously.
– more creative through rebellion/image – we all know what’s happening with Taylor Swift and her wish to play the game in her own way. And that’s great. An artist is not just delivering music, it was never the case but, now, an artist has a voice that can go everywhere thanks to all the possibilities that technology offers. Truth prevails. There is no way backwards, the artist can talk directly to his fans. Lady Gaga understood it well with her Little Monsters. Information is getting more important than artistry sometimes, we need to balance but it’s the situation. And I’m sure Taylor’s best friend Kanye West would not contradict me here.
And we can certainly find dozens of other directions. I hear some of you blaming this new situation, naming some young or less known artists who are struggling backstage. I believe there is a way for everybody and all the budgets. Rap business was built on parallel economy and it was 20 years ago. So, piracy may be considered as a blessing for music industry as it pushed it to reinvent itself and deliver better experience to the consumers. Piracy broke the rules for them to be changed. Illegal downloads inspired innovation. And we hope it will always be the case to continue to enjoy more and more our favorite artists.