Piracy, Not The End of Music (Hope for the Future)

Looking at the music industry solely from a business prospective, there are bright spots that should be highlighted. One bright spot that can be highlighted is the sales of music digitally. It has increased since its advent each and every year, though it should also be highlighted that download sales of singles outnumber that of physical and digital full albums combined.

While the music industry may never return to the success they had ten or so years ago before the rise of file-sharing, there are signs that the music industry can be sustained and still thrive in our ever changing culture.

Music nowadays if often knocked being inferior to older music. As a whole, the music industry may be weaker, but there are standout artists that essentially carry and keep the industry afloat.  I will highlight two modern artists of contrasting styles that do this. First is the dance club and party culture virtuoso, Lady Gaga. Second, is the phenom of country music, Taylor Swift. Both of their 2008 albums had great commercial success as well as garnering many awards. Lady Gaga and her 2008 album, The Fame, is a certified 3x platinum. Taylor Swift’s 2008 Fearless album is a certified 6x platinum. So despite Lady Gaga’s popularity in our mainstream party culture, she is still outsold by Taylor Swift. However, that party culture may very well be the reason why Lady Gaga doesn’t sell as much.

Music that is associated with clubbing and our party culture, people can just go to the club and they are guaranteed to hear it. They more often listen to the music because it reminds them of the party atmosphere more than the messages and the lyrics of the song. Taylor Swift’s music connects to her audience through many emotional discourses. That is what makes the difference; people who listen to Taylor Swift’s music listen for more than just reliving the party experience. This is not to say that fans of Lady Gaga do not for other reasons than just reliving the party atmosphere, but it is much more prevalent in Swift’s case, as is apparent by her following. The way that Swift emotionally attaches herself with her fans is very similar to how punk rock in the late 90s and early 2000s attached to their fans and built their following, all while selling millions as well. This is apparent by her 2010 album Speak Now, which sold over 1 million in its first week, a feat that means much more nowadays than it did ten years ago, and a feat that has not been accomplished since 2008. I am not suggesting who is better or what the best model for selling is, but rather examples of success in recent years in two completely different ways.

Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga are just two examples of successful artists in the current music industry. They are examples of how they have found their niche in the industry and have built a following in similar ways to how music was drawing in crowds when the industry was at its peak. Those days are over, but that does not mean the industry has to die.

Just like how steroids ravaged Major League Baseball, it has been on the recovery in recent years. Piracy may have ravaged the music industry, but right now, they are recovering and only time will tell how much they recover and what new business plans they decide to push forth.

DC

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