A Declining Industry: Face The Music

Music shops such as this are struggling to bear the weight of mobile streaming apps such as Spotify and Apple Music.

It’s something that humans have been creating for thousands of years; It defines generations and cultures, and is a central aspect of human life, yet music as we know it is constantly changing. As a result of the rise in streaming, the music industry is evolving into a more technological platform for artists, causing major waves for hard music itself.

After years of intense decline for the music industry, recent years have seen a resurgence, with 40% of revenue coming from online streaming. From the outside, the music industry appears a prosperous market, yet in reality the musicians are seeing their revenues rapidly decline due to streaming services.


Some of the many Online streaming sites, such as Spotify, Youtube, and Deezer. 

Gone are the days of vinyl, cassettes and CD’s. We, as a generation, welcome the simplicity of the Youtube era. Youtube, as one of the largest streaming platforms, can in many ways be held responsible for the decline of the music industry. At the touch of a button, we have access to a plethora of choice in regards to music, all the songs we know and love, for even the most refined of tastes. One of the biggest factors into the increase of popularity for Youtube is that all streaming is free, making it progressively harder for up and coming artists to get a foot on the ladder.

This can also be seen through other applications such as Spotify and Apple Music, which users pay for in monthly installations, yet only a very small percentage of the money goes to the content creators, but instead to the founders of the app. Spotify, on average, only pay up to £0.0047 per stream to the holder of music rights, which is often then split among the artists, the songwriters, producer and the label.

Another aspect which has had vast repercussions is the illegal downloading and piracy of music. It has been made very easy for the users of illegal apps and devices to steal music from the creators to be used for their own purposes. This stops the creators from earning through their trade, and also discredits them, making the music industry appear more and more undesirable for many. In estimation, more than $12.5 billion in revenue to musical artists, producers and songwriters are lost every year due to piracy. Online streaming was created to combat said piracy, but has further hindered the industry as a whole and the authenticity of music.

When interviewing a musician, Tony Dredster has said that,

“In a space of about 5 years we went from swapping a couple albums in school on tapes to a global epidemic. I mean, who’s going to pay for something from one website when you can download it free from another?

This has all had huge impact on recording artists and recording companies. To record an album still cost a lot of money. Like thousands of pounds, your average person doesn’t realise that. Either the artist pays so they can release it off their own backs or you get a record deal from a company like Warner brothers or EMI who will plug it to the radio stations so the record company or the artist can then make money from the Royalties of air play.

These days the only way for artists with out a record deal is to make cash is from live shows. Not many smaller artists are making enough cash to live on from hits on a YouTube, although it does give them a platform. They get more from venues with entree fees, so the only way to really make a living from it is to constantly gig.”

Many will see this shift as a detriment to the music industry, yet it begs the question: Is the music industry being harmed, or is it simply thriving in alternative fields? As a society, how can we uphold the credibility of songwriters and artists while also allowing the industry to evolve and thrive in the increasingly-complex technological society that we live in?

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