File Sharing Never Stopping
At the heart of it, file sharing shouldn’t be looked upon as an illegal activity, but rather a consumer paradigm shift. It’s simple: people want to obtain recorded music for free or very cheap, and the more of it they have access to, the more likely they are to buy concert tickets and/or merchandise related to their newly discovered favourite artists. This isn’t great news if you’re a major record label, but if you’re a young touring band that’s primarily relying on concert tickets and T-shirt sales for income, this perspective might seem very healthy. The reality is there’s already an entire generation of young consumers that views music consumption in these terms.
Fan Funding Moving Independent Projects
People may want their tracks for free, but many are also very generous in directly supporting their favourite bands and producers. Sites like Kickstarter and Pledge Music allow individuals to financially contribute to independent music projects. They’re an amazing way for fans to feel connected to artists they’re really excited about and believe in.
Streaming Services Grow
Sites like Pandora Radio, Rhapsody and Spotify offer neither illegal file sharing nor legal downloads, but rather specific streaming content on demand. The strength of these services is continually guiding users towards more music that might be of interest to them. The test over time is going to be whether or not all the various stakeholders involved (artists, labels, publishers, portals, etc.) can be satisfied monetarily and not become victims of their own greed.
Electronic Music On The Rise
Electronic music as a genre has always experienced peaks and valleys. While it may not again reach the heady days of ’90s rave culture, there has been a rise in demand for both underground and mainstream electronic acts in North America for the last couple of years, and that should continue through 2012.
Quality Will Matter More Than Ever
Reliance on image and the cult of celebrity is not as strong as it once was; the quality of the actual music artists create has become more important than ever. Technology has created an environment in which all new music can be made extremely accessible. It has also created a public that is highly educated about music, and that has the ability to quickly broadcast opinions via various forms of social media. These factors combined create a situation in which truly great music can quickly reach a wide audience without relying on the dollar power of huge publicity campaigns.