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How Technology is Changing the Music Industry

17 January 2018

It’s no secret that technology has dramatically changed the way we go about our daily lives. Although we don’t have flying cars like the Jetsons predicted (at least not yet!), we are constantly using smart phones, computers, the Internet and other tools to connect to people all over the world instantly.

And it’s not a surprise that technology has also had a major effect on the way we listen to – and interact with – music. This was one of the topics explored over the course of three expert panels at Consumer Technology Association’s recent 2018 CES Conference in Las Vegas, where the world annually gathers to showcase and learn about the latest innovations in consumer technologies.

According to industry experts, social media, streaming, and augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have had a transformative impact on the way artists can share their work with the public and interact with their listeners. Thanks to social media platforms, artists are able to get real-time feedback from their fans to better inform their marketing strategies, creating a true brand partnership connection.

While AR, AI and virtual reality VR technologies are continuing to evolve, their potential for personalizing listening experiences for fans is immense and this is an area we will continue to watch with anticipation.

Of course, conversations about music and technology couldn’t be complete without discussing the power of streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal. As part of the “How Streaming Saved the Music Business,” experts from Interscope Records, Nielsen Music, SoundCloud and others all touted streaming as not only reviving the struggling industry, but emerging as its leader in the last two years.

This shift can be attributed to increasing demand for customization. Fans want to be able to choose the music they listen to and skip the music they don’t like. They want to access curated playlists and create their own with songs they love. As a result, streaming has allowed genres generally overlooked by traditional radio stations to flourish, with Hip-Hop/R&B becoming the most popular. Post Malone’s manager Dre London also noted that the genre was previously often accessed via pirated CDs and mixtapes and the shift to streaming has allowed Hip-Hop and R&B fans to more easily access their favorite tracks. The results show: Post Malone’s “rockstar” broke Apple Music’s single week streaming record, getting 25 million plays in the song’s first week following release.

The panel also agreed that in our era of instant access, streaming has become “ground zero” for new music, and while radio still serves a role in accessing music, streaming is now the preferred means for artists to release their songs. Artists can have more control over the way their new music drops and can customize the experience to best fit their image. Fans are also increasingly turning to streaming when looking for new tracks, with a wide variety of new songs released daily.

But while streaming has changed the way we discover and listen to music, artists still struggle to get paid for their work. Yes, many streaming services pay royalties to music creators, but there are still many platforms that don’t pay artists their fair share for their work. AM/FM radio stations are exempt from paying royalties to artists, and satellite radio services and YouTube pay well below true market value.  musicFIRST is working to ensure that as technology continues to bring more music to more people, creators receive market-based compensation across ALL platforms – old and new.

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