When Beethoven was topping the charts, the only way you could hear his music was to actually go and see the symphonies live in person. It was over 50 years after Beethoven died, that the first sound was recorded. Technological advancements through the 20th century saw the introduction of the record player. This began to privatize music, making it possible for people to listen to music at home, away from live events. In the early 1980’s the “compact disc” or CD further revolutionized the way we listen to music. The Sony Walkman made music portable, allowing us to take our favorite songs wherever we went. Steve Jobs made listening to music even easier with the I-pod, allowing you to store thousands of songs and audio files on one little device.
Then, at the turn of the millennium, a year after the I-pod was released; an online site came along and changed the music industry forever. It was called Napster.
Napster was an online site that allowed users to share and download MP3 files. It was the first illegal download-pirating site. It almost bankrupt the record companies as it bypassed the traditional forms of distribution and allowed people to access songs for free. It paved the way for a new form of listening to music. In today’s world with everyone attached to two or three devices, platforms like Spotify and apple music have given people access to an entire library of music wherever they go as well as paying the artists who make the music.
I went to find two musicians and music lovers at opposite ends of the spectrum, to get their take on how music has changed. Nic Long, My uncle is 60 years old, he’s been playing guitar all his life. He grew up experiencing a wide variety of music genres and technologies. At the other end is Baden Donegal, in his early twenties he is the lead singer of a popular band in Sydney. Baden has first hand experience of what it’s like to be a musician in the digital age, well aware of both the pros and cons.
Although Nick is a fan of traditional music platforms he accepts that we must adapt to new technologies and systems in order to stay relevant in today’s world.
“If I already own an album I would rather listen to the hard copy version, for a new release or a play list I would use a streaming service.” Nic explained how there is something much more authentic and raw about listening to an album on a record as opposed to listening to it online. “Listening to music in 1995 was much more of an event. Depending on the format, you had to find the Record, clean the needle, clean the record, stick it on the turntable, and flip it over once the side had finished, these days, your entire music library is on your phone and just one click away.” The Internet has made listening to music so much more portable, the access to new content is much more simple, although the enjoyment of browsing in a Record shop no longer exists, the advantages of music moving on line are accessibility. You can just download the one track you need. Apple Music lets you listen to music that normally wouldn’t appear on your radar.
“The all-you-can-eat access model is starting to make sense to people. And we expect that free is going to roll into subscription and that is going to be a really huge part of our business.” (Tom Corson, the president of RCA Records, 2014.) The acceptance of online services by traditional media companies highlights how the world is adapting to changing technologies.
Having the ability to produce and distribute your music without the support of a big record company is something Baden is very familiar with. “It has definitely made it more competitive because you don’t need to be with some massive record label to get noticed anymore. Being able to just jump online and stumble across an unheard artist on the same site as your favourite one definitely levels the playing field.” Technology has allowed musicians to record, produce and distribute their own music all over the world. Exposing your music to millions of people around the world has its pros and cons though. “It’s easier to illegally download music which is crippling the artists income through album sales but also exposing a lot more music in places it normally wouldn’t be, and that’s fuelling other sides of the industry like music festivals which benefits the artists.”
The digitalisation of music has created not just another way of listening to music; it has opened so many different avenues for creativity and interaction around music. With everything online now it makes it a lot easier to connect and communicate with people. Making it easier to promote events and festivals and collaborate with other musicians and artists that you wouldn’t normally have the chance to meet.
Nic and Baden understand that change is the only constant, realising that the music industry will continue to grow and evolve with the world around it. “It has almost taken the reverence out of it. In the next 5/10 years music will be much more homemade, I think it will be produced and sold by the individual, cutting out the middle man, hopefully Reality TV shows will not have the influence over what is “Popular Music” as sadly seems to be the case at the moment.” Explains Nic on where he sees the music world in the near future.
“Music like most things is trends that are just going in a giant loop. Everything is just being recycled from what’s already been done in the past. Apart from a few artists of our generation, most music is just following the trend of the loop. I think in 5 or 10 years we could be recycling music and trends from the 80’s and everyone will be into spandex and roller discos, as everyone today is trying look like they went to Woodstock in the 1970’s. Music is definitely always going to be a massive part of everything but the trends will never stop turning over.”
Musical technologies and systems continue to change and evolve with the world around them. It is essential that music doesn’t stop progressing; otherwise it will become irrelevant and be forgotten. Online services have created a path towards the future of music listening. Although the practices and customs around music will never stop changing the creativity and inspiration behind the songs we listen to will continue to be our international language.
The Impact of Digital Music streaming on Music Industry Management- A case study of Spotify | Christine Ben-Ameh – Academia.edu. 2015. The Impact of Digital Music streaming on Music Industry Management- A case study of spotify | Christine Ben-Ameh – Academia.edu. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.academia.edu/9767797/The_Impact_of_Digital_Music_streaming_on_Music_Industry_Management-_A_case_study_of_spotify. [Accessed 19 October 2015].
Spotify: Friend or Foe? – The New Yorker. 2015. Spotify: Friend or Foe? – The New Yorker. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/24/revenue-streams. [Accessed 20 October 2015].
Music for everyone – Spotify. 2015. Music for everyone – Spotify. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.spotify.com/au/. [Accessed 27 October 2015].
For my final assessment I wanted to explore a part of the media that I found interesting, that I could relate to. I wanted to research something that I used in my life. This way I could better understand the topic and better understand the stories of the people I interviewed. I looked at the different forms of media that I use on a daily basis and tried to see which one would tell the best story. Social media has been done so many times that I would have to find an original angle and really execute it properly. I didn’t find this too interesting or appealing. After looking at aspects like Netflix and going to the cinemas, I finally landed on Music. Online streaming services such as Spotify are platforms I use every day. I was also interested in finding out the evolution of music and how it has changed and adapted over time.
I wanted to see if the ‘Digitalization’ of the music world was better or worse for people that listen to music every day. I am pretty happy with how it turned out.
I wanted to see if my online habits and tendencies were the same as people around me, I found a lot of interesting answers to everyday situations that I realized I too experienced.
I wanted to get a contrast of opinions from someone who has experienced the constant evolution of musical technologies to someone in my generation who was born in the middle of the digitalization of music. I tried to interview some people who work in the music industry. I tried to interview the owner of a record store but it didn’t end up happening. Having some primary insight into how music sales have changed over the last 10/15 years is something I wish I had been able to include. It would have given the story more depth.
Because I wanted to explain a lot that I didn’t think I could get across through a video or image format, I decided to conduct written interviews. Asking each two a similar set of questions. The questions varied depending on their age, interests and occupations.
After both primary and secondary research I learnt a lot about how much the digitalization of the music industry has changed the way we listen to music. With all the accessibility and portability of music today, I found that people still like the traditional forms of listening to music. I found that this related a lot to how we are spatial in nature. Although we are spoilt with a variety of different technologies, we still enjoy using old, out dated platforms form time to time.
Looking back at the Blog Post I am quite happy with it all. There are certain aspects that could have been improved; I could have used more scholarly resources that would have given some depth and clarity to my story. This is another aspect of my researching skills that I need further improvement on, finding resources that compliment what I am saying. Apart from that I think the answers I got from my interviews were strong. The answers I got really helped me explain the story, comparing the pros and cons of the music industry moving online. The interviews themselves each told a little story within the whole story.
Overall i really enjoyed the whole process of this storytelling project. it allowed me to explore an area of the media that I really enjoy and am interested in. the format of the story, helped me do a lot of research on the history of the topic. In turn, the research not only helped me write my story it taught me a lot about the music industry and where we are heading. it has also taught me a lot about research methods, especially when it comes to interviewing and the process around it. Finding sources that will better help tell your story is an essential part to any piece of work whether it be a news story or a blog post. This task has also inspired me to start thinking about other ideas and pursuing them outside of uni. I realised how enjoying it can be to have an idea you really want to work on and seeing it through, being able to tell it the way you want. That is the most important thing i have learnt form this exercise, going out there and finding your own stories is one of the most rewarding things you can do.
I hope to carry these skills that i have learnt into the rest of my uni career and beyond, as well as working on the things that need improvement.