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Music Industry Torn Over the Battle for Digital Downloads

The music industry is struggling and technology is to blame. Such has been the lament of artists, producers, and music labels for almost two decades.

Gone are the days of passing out flyers to promote a band’s new record or upcoming album release, despite the fact that Americans use 9 billion tons of paper a year. Technology is undoubtedly revolutionizing the music industry, but certain groups of people within the industry believe it’s changing for the better, while others, specifically many smaller musicians, are worried about their future.

In 2014, there were roughly 173,000 self-employed musicians working in the United States. Although some of those artists went on to have extremely lucrative and successful careers in the music industry, the majority of self-employed artists have to continually fight to survive in this competitive and increasingly digital industry.

According to Forbes, payments to musicians, songwriters, and the companies that represent them are at extremely low rates in 2017, and computers are actually making a bad problem worse. With more music fans streaming music online, incorrect metadata is resulting in missed payments, low payments, or the wrong rights holders receiving payments altogether.

Digital Music News, however, is optimistic about the outlook for the music industry, which might be showing signs of a comeback.

“The revenue returning to rights holders through these [streaming] services in 2016 amounted to $553 million,” reported the International Federation of Phonographic Industries. “By contrast, a much smaller use base of 212 million users of auto subscription services [both paid and ad-supported], that have negotiated licenses on fair terms, contributed over $3.9 billion.”

Some old school musicians, especially those who made fortunes off the “old way” of doing thing, are much less optimistic about the industry. Now, some of these music legends are speaking out.

And according to at least one aging rocker, the prognosis for the future of the music industry is grim:

“Good luck to ’em. I am not a supporter,” said co-leader of KISS Gene Simmons, referring to Spotify and other streaming services. “If you wanna earn a living, you can’t get the music out there. So you’re living in your mother’s basement, you have to have a day job and the kids get your music for free…And the people that killed all the new bands are the fans themselves. It wasn’t corporate America, it wasn’t aliens from space.

“The people that killed the music they love are the people who love the music.”




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