How to Get Millennials to Start Paying for Music: The Answer is a Bit Weird

There’s an entire generation which has never paid for recorded music. To them, music has always been free. Buy a CD, a record or a download? Why when everything is out there for the taking?

Case in point: the recent Apple vs. Taylor Swift issue. The public was divided into two camps. On one side where those who thought that Apple should pay royalties on everything through Apple Music’s 90-day trial period. On the other were those who believed that the artists should just suck it up and use this as an opportunity to gain some exposure. At no time did any member of the public suggest “Hey, can I volunteer to pay so we can just get on with it and maybe help out some artists along the way?”

So how do we get people–especially millennials–to pay for music? One suggestion is to start paying them.  From Medium.com:

The DIY revolution has begun to devour its children.

If you immediately understood the above as nod to an oft-quoted Pat Buchanan line in the nineties culture wars, then you’ll probably also remember the rise of the DIY movement. Anyone could start a band (hell, you didn’t even need to know how to play an instrument). Your neighbor’s garage band was just as good as whatever major label sellout was headlining the club that night — maybe even better, because they still had integrity, man. Rock stars weren’t Gods but mere mortals to happened to have slightly better hair and the same neurosis. Eddie Vedder spent more time polishing his “aw, shucks, I’m a regular dude” persona than your average politician.

After some fits and starts, the movement seems to have taken hold and stuck. Part of that is due to the fact that it’s easier than ever to record and share music — you can download a few cheap programs like AudioTool and Magix Music Maker, record some tracks, and post them on SoundCloud from wherever you are in the world. You don’t have to be part of a scene, and/or have any support — a kid in a slum has the same chance of going viral as a kid in L.A. On almost every level, this is great. Allowing more talented artists to share their music is always a good thing, even if it means having to wade through a lot of trash. Fans have more control in terms of helping artists rise to the top. Geography is no longer a limiting factor when it comes to sharing art.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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