Hard Times for MP3 Sellers
I missed this article from almost a year back, and it’s an extra-interesting read in light of industry events that have taken place since. Beyond that, there’s some valuable food-for-thought to process here.
Unless you’re Amazon and the market takes your lack of interest in making a profit with good-hearted cheer, this is a tough time to be selling goods in the music industry. It’s even harder if those “goods” happen to be music files.
I’d heard it said as recently as a year ago that a DJ-centered market would be protected from the massive shift in consumer expectations driven by streaming, to a world in which every sound ever committed to tape can be listened to for free. This is clearly not the case. After all, it was once claimed that DJs would always have a “need” for vinyl, too.
This is a bitter pill for people with some skin in the game, who look and see a larger market for music than has ever existed before. There are also more DJs now than at any time in history, but selling that market on a product with zero duplication costs and unlimited supply has been a tough racket.
Recorded music was once the foundation of billion dollar corporations – corporations which were largely gutted by sexy tech start-ups that could do everything better… except turn a profit. Now we’re entering the next stage, in which the business of selling “records” (however you want to define that) is simply too low-margin to attract the big, dumb money of a Robert Sillerman. The precise shape of that next stage of the recorded music industry is unclear but one would like to imagine it characterized by artist-centered services like Bandcamp existing in the shadow of the streaming services – a business big enough for you or me or a guy doing this out of his bedroom or a bigroom but too small for the lumbering giants to bother with.