Today is October 14, 2020, the day that I pay my bills. I switched over to online billing a long time ago, and my statements routinely show up in my e-mail inbox. I log-on and pay my cell phone bill, my Netflix bill, and my internet bill. The bill for my internet seems a little high, so I look into things a little closer. It appears that the introductory rate on my music add-on has run out, and I am now being charged full price.
About six months ago, after years of debate and music industry deal-cutting the major labels and the Alternative Distribution Alliance (a consortium of independent labels distributed through Warner Brothers) agreed to the first incarnation of a model of music distribution that allows users unlimited access to music for a flat monthly fee. This model treats music as a utility, and comes with unlimited consumption. I can download as much music as I want and put it on a single registered audio device, my mp3 player. I can stream as much as I’d like, burn as many cd’s as I’d like, and send recommendations to friends over the internet.
This model is built on bittorrent technology, which was the domain of pirates in 2010. Since that time, the music industry has woken up to the realization that they have a tremendous opportunity. They’ve stopped prosecuting fans and enthusiasts and finally looked inward. They’ve assessed their problem and realized that fans can receive music for free, in high quality formats with very little effort. While the iTunes Music Store offers fans convenience, it does not offer quality, nor is it financially feasible for a music fan with a large appetite. With the advent of Netflix, the solution was in sight but it took a lot to get labels and musicians on board. Fans, on the other hand, were quick to adopt the new model.
The greatest aspect of this new technology is that the music industry has not lost any jobs. There are still the same roles as before, with new positions opened in the technology companies that control the distribution of music. Just like the year 2010 and previous, there is still a thriving touring industry. Vinyl sales continued to soar after the 89% increase in sales from 2007-2008. Artists still sell a lot of merchandise both at live shows and online. Fan interaction is at an all time high as more bands and artists take advantage of social engagement opportunities.
The music industry saw profits increase as fans adopted the new model. There was also a decrease in litigation, driving down label expenditures that would have normally gone towards fighting piracy. There are still those who download illegally, they will always exist. These numbers have diminished significantly, however, as most people are willing to pay ten dollars a month for unlimited music.