From Techno to 'Tech.-Yes'! How Technology is Revolutionising the Music Industry
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Music is a major part of our lives, and we get to experience it in some form or the other every single day. Whether it’s the soundtrack of a show, an ad running on TV, at the gym, or instrumentals in a hotel lobby or elevator – music is around us. With time, it has been made available to listen to on all our personal devices wherever and whenever we please, in ways customisable beyond one’s imagination. But it wasn’t always this way.
The State of the Music Industry and Its Consumers - From Then to Now:
In earlier times, access to music was limited to going to watch live performances of bands or musicals, which then moved on to being taped and were listened to on records and cassette players, followed by CD players. Then came the age of the Walkman and other mp3 players, which allowed people to walk around with these portable devices and listen to an array of artists and bands mixed into one compact device. Yet, not everyone had access to these because of factors such as costs, distribution and reach.
Now, here we are today, with an expected 829 million smartphone users in India alone by 2022, more than double that of the 404 million in 2017, according to a Deloitte report. This has greatly facilitated the ever-growing list of music channels, and formats that some of us may still be unaware of. Moreover, as per the same report, the increasing popularity of streaming services has garnered over 150 million music streaming users in India. The reach and distribution can largely be attributed to the rise of disruptive technologies, and music OTT platforms are leading the way.
As per IFPI’s annual report, the global recorded music industry raked in USD 19.1 billion worth of revenue in 2018, which was close to 10% more than that of the growth in the previous year. Of this, streaming services made up over 45% of the global revenue. In India, the likes of Apple Music, Spotify, JioSaavn and Gaana are amongst the most used platforms by users.
Moreover, according to a report by Hungama Music, consumers in India spend an average of over 21.5 hours per week listening to music, which is above the global average of just under 18 hours. There is also an increasing demand for content in regional languages, where native platforms hold the majority of such users, and a wide number of platforms are meeting this need.
A More Focused Approach to the Needs of Artists:
While the industry continues to grow and cater to the end-user, there is also increased scope for artists to monetise their work by eliminating the middlemen. There is a rise in artist services with platforms such as DistroKid, TuneCore and, more recently, SoundCloud helping artists self-distribute and earn based on different slabs and parameters. Given the popularity of streaming, the platforms primarily cater to getting artists on-board with prominent outlets in the space.
With these platforms, artists can sign up with a reasonable fee and choose which outlets they would like their original songs to be featured on. These include major ones like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Amazon Music, JioSaavn and several other foreign and indigenous outlets. They also let artists track and monitor various data points via the distribution platform, such as the number of views and downloads to see how well they are doing.
Bringing the Best of Technology and Music Together:
With tech disrupting every sphere of life, it has, no doubt, also had a significant impact on the physical devices of music as well. From conversational AI to new high-tech instruments, and even the more commonly used Bluetooth devices – everyone is looking for the best sound and experience. With Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant helping everyone shift to the ‘smart’ life with the novelty they bring, people can easily hook these up to their speakers at home and ask them to play their favourite tunes.
Additionally, instruments such as the ROLI Seaboard Rise keyboard are a great example of how much tech can enhance the music-making experience for artists. Not only are they super cool to look at, but these midi keyboards are soft and touch-sensitive, letting one manipulate and modulate music with the slide of a finger. They also come with hundreds of pre-programmed patches, helping artists create unique sounds with ease. With the implementation of such technology, the opportunities for personalisation in music are endless.
The way technology has transformed business across the industry is clearly reflected in the sudden rise of new names amongst the world’s largest companies by business value. The widespread disruption is helping businesses in the music space to scale up, diversify and expand their offerings like never before. It is also increasing the accessibility and reach from both a user and provider perspective. This has created a world, and time, where only those who adapt to these changes will continue to disrupt and lead, eventually emerging (or remaining) in the top leagues of the music business.