On the contrary: music industry not dying

A new study argues that in fact “the music industry,” whatever that may be considered these days, is actually growing. Which of course isn’t really news if you pay attention to more than the top-line trends of sales of conventional platforms for retail music. But still … Money quote, as it were:

For years, we’ve been hearing doom and gloom reports about how the industry is dying, how customers just want stuff for free, about analog dollars turning into digital dimes… and (all too frequently) about how new laws are needed to save these industries.

Yet, what we find when looking through the research — from a variety of sources to corroborate and back up any research we found — is that the overall entertainment ecosystem is in a real renaissance period. The sky truly is rising, not falling: the industry is growing both in terms of revenue and content. We split the report up into video & film, books, music and video games — and all four segments are showing significant growth (not shrinking) over the last decade. All of them are showing tremendous opportunity. The amount of content that they’re all producing is growing at an astounding rate (which again, is the most important thing). But revenue, too, is growing. Equally important is that rather than consumers just wanting to get stuff for free, they have continually spent a greater portion of their income on entertainment — with the percentage increasing by 15% from 2000 to 2008.

This all points to the fact that what is happening within the industry is not a challenge of a business getting smaller — quite the opposite. It’s about the challenge of an industry getting larger, but doing so in ways that route around the existing structures.

Full, multimedia report here. Another take here.

The takeaway, I think, is that we’re conditioned to assume “growth” in music, as in other industrial complexes of modern capitalism, aligns with profit-taking in certain easily identifiable ways (record companies, artists, retailers, promoters etc), and/but that’s all been scrambled and is and has been realigning in new forms that will probably eventually be readable in terms of a more traditional balance sheet of producers and consumers and supply and demand. But right now, things are still very much in flux.

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  1. NG wrote:

    But what about sales of Southern Gospel Music? Is anyone with knowledge of CD sales and online sales willing to say what is happening? Singing News now has a weekly chart but I think it is based on radio play and not sales. Now that there are so many video clips of SGM groups do people just download the audio of those clips to make CDs? I doubt we’ll ever get real sales figures on CD and online sales from SGM groups.

  2. cd guy wrote:

    NG — I don’t know how we can get real sales figures on cd sales until (at least the major) artist begin to report table sales, at least to Soundscan. I think nearly nobody does that, at least on a regular basis. Some do sparadically, but very few.

  3. yankeegospelgirl wrote:

    The way I look at it is, as long as Paul Simon is still making music, the music industry is still alive.

  4. carl wrote:

    Look at how often the music industry–and the gospel music industry — has transformed itself since the 1880s. Maybe “in flux” is its characteristic status.

    Is it common to assume that one indicator of the survival (or not) of SGM is its market share, as the industry reflects changes in music culture and music technology? It’s a question I ask myself, but somehow it’s not the right question.

  5. Ode wrote:

    Good point!
    It’d be like saying that data recording is dying based on declining sales of pencils and typewriters. If businesses were dying just because people are stealing from them, banks, insurance companies and US Treasury would be gone a while ago. The whole “dying” notion mostly exists in the heads of record label executives - crybabies who get separated from their money by sly business analysts /solution providers,that are seizing the great opportunity with those doofuses.

    Entertainment and showbiz enjoys an unprecedented elasticity of demand,even ahead of life sustaining industries.People often cut into their food, etc. budget to provide selves with fun, especially during difficult economic times.

    Unwise extrapolating a current trend into the future can result in gloomy prognostications akin those of pre-car 19th century economists “with the street traffic on the rise, in 50 years every street in London would be buried under nine feet of manure”.

    Perpetual transformation WILL ensure music industry survival. SGM is getting to be more viable, with some outdated parts dying off, thank God.

  6. irishlad wrote:

    5 Good point Ode; at least we’ll all be skinny when we’re out squandering our hard earned money on hedonistic pursuits.

  7. Ode wrote:

    6,i am making a somewhat dark humor-ish remark in wake of incredibly talented singer death, but yeap, hedonistic pursuits that cause weight loss are surely costly, my dear :) and are way too taxing

  8. Ernie Leblanc wrote:

    Sorry to ask you to use what you may not have, “Critical-Thinking Skills,” but, which part of the multi-faceted music industry are your referring to?

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