The future of the music industry
The market for the record industry was dominated for many years by some very powerful companies, which held the keys to artistic success and commercial success. Today, CD sales are collapsing, and the music industry is faced with a double-faced phenomenon according to whether it is legal or not: downloading. Both do not threaten their interests in the same way, but attack together the supremacy of the majors. The download responds indeed to a new behavior of the consumer, less willing to buy a pre-conceived selection of titles, but wanting to compose it himself, and preferring to store music files as recorded discs.
The appearance of the download has upset the music market
For the first time, a technological upheaval affected the music market without its coming from the study desks of the music industry. The download is born of the diffusion of the Internet in society, coupled with the increase of the flows.
Statistics are still uncertain about illegal behavior. According to research, the number of people connected to an illegal download site in 2016 is approximately 5 million at a time. About 90% of the bandwidth (the amount of data transmitted per unit of time on the Internet) in America would be devolved to peer-to-peer .
The music industry supports the development of paid online music
The most suitable response to the rise of free download is undoubtedly the online payment. We have seen the flexibility and simplicity of downloading: it is not impossible to rely on these new services allowed by the Internet to channel latent demand rather than to suffocate it legally.
Moreover, if the majors had been really attentive to this technological revolution, they could have digitized their catalog to offer it to online sales, anticipating the need of the consumer. This solution might not have been optimal from the consumer's point of view if it is considered that the centralization of the offer saves on transaction costs. At the same time, the search engines are sufficiently powerful to direct the consumer towards the best sources. This is what Sony finally decided to do in 2004.
Currently, there are more than 230 sites offering to buy digital music, including more than 150 in America. Some of these sites are purely national, offering the repertoire specific to a country. Other sites are known worldwide , such as Apple Music Store or Napster, and are available in different national venues to take into account the cultural diversity that characterizes the economy of culture
Different actors are now established in the market of paying music, which shows that no one knows ex ante what will be the figure of the market of tomorrow.
As in each of the technological revolutions, the new media is accused of killing the elders (in the 1920s, radio was accused of signing the death of newspapers, like the DVD of cinema in the 1990s). After a few years of fighting, the majors seem to have understood today that they could not counter the download of music files and are closely interested in the online music market paying.
To ensure its future, the music industry must ensure that it restores an image degraded by years of opposition to technological progress and the behavior of Internet users, the main consumers of music. It will probably also have to reconnect with technological progress, and take back the hand in the battle of innovation, the MP3 certainly not marking the end of the history of music supports. It will also have to accept that a part of the market escapes it, as it once escaped recorded tapes or engraved CDs. But only a strong industry can accept the gray area of an illegal sector.