Why Music Entrepreneurs Need to Look at Technology Innovation
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Music has been an integral part of the human life ever since the beginning of time or as far as history has made us aware of its existence. While music has been available in the written form for centuries through music-sheets, for a long time, it was consumed mainly through live performances by music aficionados. It was only in 1877, with the invention of the Phonograph, by Thomas Edison, did music get another form. Since then, technology has taken music through various eras including the "Acoustic" era (1877 to 1925), the "Electrical" era (1925 to 1945 (including sound on film)), the "Magnetic" era (1945 to 1975) and the "Digital" era (1975 to the present day). While the history of sound can be read more in detail through Wikipedia, we are in an era where technology has played an active role in creating entrepreneurs using music as their product offering.
Technology in Music Production
In the early days, music was recorded live where the musicians and the singers had to practice diligently for hours before they could record. There could be no mistakes and retakes. Studios needed to be large to accommodate space and people. As technology emerged and studios became software enabled, it gave opportunity for musicians and singers to record not only at a quicker pace but also individually. This resulted in studios becoming smaller and many more players investing into building studios as it was becoming a cheaper and lucrative model. In the late 90s, when the Indi Pop scene in India was flourishing and the labels needed state of the art technology for the talent they recognised and wanted to hone, the recording business gained a lot of momentum where not only music composers started building their own studios but also people with musical inclination. Today we see a number of artists and musicians who have used their creativity and creation of music to build studios that allows them to not only create in their own space but also at a quantity which is not cumbersome to the wallet.
Technology in Music Consumptions
Over the various eras that music has evolved into, each form factor has enabled a business model that has not only been successful but also helped in building an ecosystem for the industry. The vinyl format may have had lesser takers in terms of mass but that was replaced and made more for the common man when compact cassette came into existence. This was followed by compact discs, digital downloads and in the most current and prevalent format, streaming. Each format has generated a great amount of revenue in its time, but as evolution demands, with everything new, the old tends to get obsolete.
While streaming is the current favourite and there are multiple players across the globe, a number of them have had a challenge sustaining their business models for various reasons with some of the most popular reasons being – content acquisition costs, scalable technology, revenue sharing with talent, etc.
Technology and Music Entrepreneurs
With the advent of various D.I.Y. platforms that allow one to present oneself without a mediator, the business of music is no longer limited in the hands of a few professionals who at one time could decide the future of a talent. Starting from music creation to amplification and to monetization, be it through live performances or sound recordings, a talent has the ability to build a business for himself / herself. And as one invention feeds another, one can see innovative businesses being built via podcasts, social media agencies for music promotions, online platforms catering to a target audience and talent as well as avenues that were at one time limited to only one entity – the record label.