The Future of the Music Industry

Desmond & Dempsey’s BIG WELCOME | Tuesday 5th June 2018

Speakers:

Conrad Withey, co-founder & CEO of Instrumental

Adam Maestro, Head of Artist Booking at Sofar Sounds

The Future of the Music Industry

To paraphrase the producer Brain McTear and his Ted X talk a few years ago – once upon a time, recorded music was valuable. It was hard to make, the costs involved in recording, manufacturing, distribution – were huge. Record companies had a complete monopoly over their artists, their music, and even their merchandise.

Then in the late 90s and early 2000’s, the likes of Napster and LimeWire came along and turned the industry on its head. Literally overnight they gave us instant access to the global catalogue of recorded music, for free. In the following 10 years – music sales worldwide were crushed – dropping from $15b a year to $6bn in 2009. They have, in the last few years, only just recovered to their levels in 1999.

"Some people would say that streaming services ‘broke’ the music industry, others that it saved it"

Some people would say that streaming services ‘broke’ the music industry, others that it saved it, opened it up and democratised it. Both Conrad and Adam agree that streaming services have been a positive thing for the music industry.

“Spotify has been amazing for making genres viable, that weren’t previously” explains Conrad. “For example ‘Peaceful Piano’ was never a genre, but now it is huge. If an artist gets on to that playlist they could expect to make $10,000 a month on royalty payments alone.”

And they aren’t just sticking to streaming services, adds Adam. “Spotify for example are already taking these playlists, like ‘Peaceful Piano’ or ‘Rap Caviar’ and turning them into live events which are incredibly successful.”

“What’s really interesting about the future is that you can be a niche artist these days but still have a global reach."

“What’s really interesting about the future” explains Conrad “is that you can be a niche artist these days but still have a global reach. Before, if you were a niche Jazz artist in London, for example, you would inevitably stay a niche artist in London. Now you have access to this global platform.”

And when it comes to the future of live performances, augmented reality and hologram performances aside, Adam explains that he believes people will continue to want to see more than just a performance. “Whether that’s a totally immersive experience tailored to that artist – like you experience with things like Secret Cinema – there is no doubt people want to connect more with these artists. With social media people already feel like they know the artists, so I think that will only become more important.”

What’s next? Only time will tell, so stay tuned.