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Can the music industry adapt to change?

One of the great side effects of the internet has been the rise in popularity of illegal downloading, a problem that has greatly impacted the music industry.

Over the past decade or so album sales have plummeted, as consumers choose to listen to their favourite artists by downloading them online for free.

But getting free music isn’t the only reason why people are downloading illegally, it’s also far more practical to listen to music digitally, unless you want to be sitting on the bus with your walkman from the 90s.

The music streaming service Spotify was thought to be a reasonable solution, giving consumers access to music for free (or a small subscription fee) while paying musicians a cut for their work.

But the site recently came under fire by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift who claimed she didn’t agree with the ethics behind Spotify, and pulled her music from the site.

“I think there should be an inherent value placed on art. I didn’t see that happening, perception-wise, when I put my music on Spotify. Everybody’s complaining about how music sales are shrinking, but nobody’s changing the way they’re doing things.” said Swift in a recent interview with Time Magazine.

Spotify supposedly gives record labels a 70 percent cut of their profits, but it’s clear that very little of that profit is going to the artists, said BitTorrent’s Director of Content Strategy Straith Schreder.

“Our goal is to make paygates available to all artists. We believe art has value; we want everyone to have the ability to sell their work direct-to-fan using Bundle.” she said, echoing Taylor Swifts words.

While BitTorrent is notorious for facilitating illegal downloads, now the site is giving artists a 90 percent cut of all sales with BitTorrent Bundle.

BitTorrent believe Spotify and iTunes leave artists in the dark about who is listening to their music, and want to give control back to musicians.

While the internet undeniably has a role in the downfall in record sales, it has also opened up brand new doors for artists – such as social media marketing.

At the BoxWorks conference in September of this year, actor and Thirty Seconds to Mars frontman Jared Leto spoke of some of the opportunities the internet has brought to the music industry, TechCrunch reported.

Now artists can connect with their fans on social networking sites such as Twitter, said Leto, channels they didn’t have back when he first started out.

Leto pointed out that his main priority is that people hear his music, and now it is all about building up a relationship with fans, rather than selling albums.

But there are other ways to make money, Leto said, such as concert ticket sales.

“Technology is the great equalizer,” he said. “It’s shifted balance of power from gatekeepers, not just to artists, but to audiences too,” Leto explained.

Changes bought on by the internet are not just specific to the music industry, or the entertainment genre in general. Businesses from all industries need to keep up technological changes, and constantly be looking for new ways to reach their target audience.

Posted by Dylan Brown

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