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The 99 Problems of the Music Industry

    1. The value of the music recording is plunging, and has been for more than a decade.  Across the board, artists are experiencing serious problems monetizing their audio releases.

    2. A decade-long decline in recording revenues has dismantled the label system, once the most reliable form of artist financing.  That includes both independent and major labels, once the core of the music industry ecosystem.

    3. That introduces fan-funding platforms like Kickstarter, Pledgemusic, and Patreon, all of whom have admirably filled some of that lost financing but haven’t come close to matching the overall funding source.  Moreover, crowdfunding success stories like Amanda Palmer are sometimes viewed as anomalies, especially given the initial investment in her career by a major label.

    4. Streaming continues to explode, but not enough to compensate for broader declines in physical CDs.  The overall result is a music industry revenue decline.

    5. Even worse, the technological evolution of formats keeps pushing the value of the recording downward.  With every subsequent format, monetization deteriorates: streaming pays less than downloads; downloads paid less than CDs.  And the next thing after streaming will probably be even worse.

    6. There is little evidence to suggest that this downfall is being made up by touring, merchandising, or other non-recording activities like ‘experiences’ (see below).  In fact, many argue that artists are being forced into unsustainably long tours, or touring virtually non-stop just to survive.

    7. Other attempts to make up the lost revenue have fallen short.  BandPage, a pioneer in trying to monetize artist ‘experiences’ to help make up for lost recording revenues, was unable to scale that revenue source substantially enough. After many years and considerable investment, BandPage was sold at a heavy loss to YouTube.

    8. That introduces a number of problems, including burnout and an increased risk of accidents while on the road.  According to NYU songwriting professor Mike Errico, the artist injury list is soaring, with Dave Grohl, Sam Smith, Miranda Lambert, Steve Aoki, Little Big Town, Meghan Trainor, Nickelback, the Black Keys and Kelly Clarkson all suffering physical, tour-related setbacks in 2015 alone.

    9. Streaming is rapidly becoming the dominant form of music consumption.  But it also pays artists the worst of any formats before it.

    10. A big part of the problem is that most consumers now attribute very little value to the recording itself, and most consumption (through YouTube, ad-supported piracy, or BitTorrent) happens at little-to-zero cost to the listener.

    For the entire list of 99 Problems, go to Digital Music News