Everyone talks about the negative impact of the Internet on the music business. Illegal file sharing and copyright violations have decimated the profits in the industry. Record labels are less willing to take risks with new artists because the profits have dried up. Sales have steadily declined over the past several years due in large part to the proliferation of illegal downloads. All of that is true, but there are two sides to this coin. Sure, things are tougher today for the new musician than ever before, but there are also new opportunities thanks to the Internet.
The Internet has reduced the barriers to entry into the music business. Today thanks to the rapid evolution in technology, a musician can record a song and share it with listeners around the world. In the past, distribution was controlled by the record labels. Unless you had a record deal it was almost impossible to reach listeners outside of your immediate area.
Distribution was not only controlled, but there was no way around the high costs of physical distribution. Manufacturing a batch of CDs or tapes could be prohibitively expensive for the starving artist. However, with free MP3 distribution via the internet, an artist’s music can reach across the world. An up and coming Latin diva can share her tunes with someone in Europe. The next rock star in Africa can share his music with someone in Japan. The Internet has opened a door that allows artists to share their art with anyone, anywhere, at any time.
Now with online retailers like Amazon, artists can even market and sell their music themselves. Sure it’s tough and don’t expect to make much money. But singers and bands can share and sell their music without depending on a record label in ways today that were impossible a decade ago.
The Internet helps people connect. Music is a deeply personal experience and people have their own preferences in what they listen to. The Internet lets people who prefer a particular style to group together easier and allows them to talk about new artists that they never would have had the chance to hear otherwise.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Music is a tough business. With declining sales and tighter profits it is harder for anyone to make a living in the music business. However, if you have a good day job and you love to make music for the sake of the music itself, then the Internet can be an incredible enabler.