In the pre-Internet days, it was easy to ascribe a value to music: it was how much it cost to (a) own it (records, CDs, tapes, etc.); (b) go see it (concert tickets); and (c) play it (musical instruments, lessons and so on.)
Today, though, the perceived value of music is…nothing. Free. Zip. No cost. Thanks, Internet.
Music may be worthless in monetary terms but it’s still very, very important and very, very valuable. So what’s the disconnect? Forbes takes a look.
For about ten years now, the recorded music industry has been in a pretty steady decline in terms of how much money is coming in. Ever since the public wrapped their heads around the idea of digital downloads—both in terms of piracy, and then iTunes, which certainly helped but didn’t stop the problem—revenues have dipped almost every year. A look at the number of records sold and the profits earned twenty years ago would make a newer executive cry.
With streaming becoming the way that people are accessing music, money is becoming even tighter in some places. Even though people are consuming more music these days than ever (we’ve surpassed one trillion streams so far this year already), they aren’t paying huge sums for it. As streaming continues to grow in popularity, there are going to be a lot of problems that the industry will have to tackle if it is to survive, but there is one that doesn’t get a lot of attention: the problem of perceived worth.
Over the past ten to fifteen years, the listening public has picked up the idea that music is all but worthless, though personally very important.