Did the Music Industry Learn from Its Near-Death Experience with the Digital Revolution? Maybe Not.

There was a while when no one was betting on the traditional music industry players ever recovering from the disruption caused by the digital revolution. But after a long and painful transition, the old school participants are back. But did they learn anything from their near-death experience? According to Bloomberg, perhaps not.

The danger is the music business learned the wrong lessons from its digital near-death experience. And that should serve as a warning to the television industry and other corners of media that are threatened as people increasingly turn away from 20th-century modes of entertainment and information.

The good news is the music business is on a healthy trajectory again. Thanks largely to the popularity of streaming music services such as Spotify and Apple Music, industry revenue is growing significantly for the first time since the 1990s. Yes, total music sales are far lower than they were at the peak of CD popularity, but it’s worth celebrating the music industry for being one of the few media businesses to generate a majority of its revenue from digital formats.

The bad news is the music labels aren’t much responsible for their own industry’s revival, and they don’t acknowledge this. Executives are patting themselves on the back so hard they risk wearing holes in their Brioni suit jackets. “Record companies are driving this digital evolution,” the record industry trade group IFPI wrote in its 2017 annual report. Even when music sales were swooning, the record companies continued “to innovate and transform their practices to usher in a new digital era,” the trade group crowed.

Oh really? It seems the industry has amnesia about its own past and present.

You simply must read the rest.

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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