In focus: How to fix the music industry

If there’s one thing our Virgin Disruptors debate around the relationship between technology and the music industry taught us, it’s that there’s a lot problems which need solving. Everyone seems to be unsure about their place in the ecosystem.

Artists are angry, with small returns from streaming services for their music, creative freedoms are being stifled. Fans are angry, with rising fees for gigs and festivals – as well as the perennial ticket tout problem – many are losing out on the live music experience. Record labels are angry, the bottom is falling out of the sales industry following the worst week ever for music sales.

In amongst all the anger, however, are a big set of opportunities. Music is now more widely available than at any other point in time, while new innovations in recording, distribution and live shows are coming thick and fast. The music industry has sadly failed to cope with the technological advancements which have allowed other sectors to flourish. Wasting so many years resisting change has left it playing catch-up, so how can it be fixed?

To answer this question we’re spending the next month asking the big question to the people that matter – musicians, fans, record labels, venue owners, start-ups in the industry, tech platforms, A & Rs, radio pluggers and designers. So, we all know the problems - but what are the fixes?

Huge impact of music industry on tech hardware sales revealed by new report

A new piece of research released by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has underlined the substantial contribution of the music industry in driving increased sales of consumer technology products... but how can we ensure a share of the profits trickle down to artists?

Should artist royalties from streaming be fairer?

With physical sales of music declining every year and streaming increasing, isn’t it time that we reconsidered how artists are paid?

How to fix live music? Stop That Guy going to gigs

If there’s one thing I would love to change about the altogether amazing experience of watching live music, it is stopping That Guy coming along for the ride.

Is vinyl the future of the music industry?

With vinyl sales bucking all current industry trends by soaring through the roof (LP sales reportedly doubled last year according to the BPI), it’s no surprise that the creativity showcased in wax has been flourishing. 

Thom Yorke: BitTorrent and beyond

Last Friday, music reviewers and Radiohead fans were scrambling to reach their computers when it transpired that Thom Yorke had released a surprise album, Tomorrow's Modern Boxes. What was even stranger was how he did it, releasing the new tracks through BitTorrent. But why?

Should camera phones be banned at gigs?

There’s nothing quite like experiencing live music. Except perhaps when someone in front of you is holding up a camera phone and blocking your view. As Kate Bush recently joined the long list of artists who have banned recording at their shows, is it time to introduce a universal ban on cameras at gigs?

Who has the power to change the music industry?

Kimberly Anne is an artist just starting her music career, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have strong opinions on changing the industry and who has the power to make that change.

A letter from the future of the music industry

What would I liked to be fixed in the music industry? What’s wrong with the industry? Maybe it’s because my musical journey is only at its inception, or maybe I’m just overly optimistic, but nothing that needs to be fixed comes to mind. But we only really know what’s wrong in hindsight. Given that, here’s a letter from my future self advising and guiding me now...

Is the unconventional music release the only way forward?

Since we currently live in an age where U2 can silently slip an album into your iTunes library without permission, it seems like a good opportunity to address just what is going on in the music industry and how the various problems could be remedied.

Should there be a loyalty scheme for live music?

The UK live music business continues to grow, raking in tremendous bales of cash for those who go on tour. A new report from UK Music, called Measuring Music, stated that the British live business generated £789m in 2013, up from £662m in 2012. Huge companies are spending millions to name venues and alcohol brands are paying hefty sums to have the names plastered all over festival sites.

Why is the Spotify generation still not paying for music?

Fans' relationship with paying for music has changed a lot in the past ten years. After a clapdown on file-sharing, people found new solace in streaming services, with 37 million streamers predicted by the end of 2014. Yet as pirating still continues to thrive, the industry is still changing to fight back.

Why we need to show heritage acts some tough love

The live music business has a log-jammed Darwinian problem – namely that older acts are refusing to step down and give younger acts a clear run at the top.

How should artists engage with music streaming services?

As streaming music becomes increasingly popular with fans, how could artists make better use of the services? Kiran Gandhi, who toured as a drummer with M.I.A. last year, shares her thoughts...

Why has nobody ever put an end to ticket touts?

Despite their placing in society by some as ‘classic entrepreneurs', ticket touts are the scourge of the music industry, driving up prices and causing genuine fans to miss out. There is, however, a simple fix...

Has a rise in technology seen a decline in talent?

In today’s music climate, bands and singers are becoming more about personality than talent. Artists are often considered ‘brands’; who’s success very much depends how they use technology rather than their musical talent. Yes, technology is doing impressive things to unearth new talent and aid the reach of music; but is it also causing the demise of the industry? 

Apple, leave our libraries alone

Thank you for the music… or, perhaps, not. If corporations such as Apple could refrain from undertaking tastemaking duties we’d all be a lot freer to discover artists of our own accord, music fans are already dictated to enough...

A different kind of fix: How Bombay Bicycle Club would save the music industry

We sit down with Bombay Bicycle Club’s Ed (bass) and Jamie (guitar) and let them get ranty. So what would they fix about the music industry? Boys, take it away...

Fixing the music industry

Over the last twenty years, the music industry has had to find solutions to many problems including plummeting CD sales, increased online piracy and new ways of listening to music online. But with global record sales decreasing year on year, the industry is still in need of saving. So how do we fix the music industry?

Background image from gettyimages

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