Vincent Black

The Swiftie Phenomenon….




Music is treat that l relax with when my days are very hectic and chaotic. I repeat tunes or verses of music that were popular in the day that had stayed with me. Music was always my get away and I am sure similarly for many of you. It does not matter what age you are or where you come from, music is always that glue or commonality that everyone is able to relate to.

However, on a personal note the music industry has dampened my enthusiasm because of outrageous ticket costs or having to buy your music online and pay for everything that was normally free. Corporate greed has killed the music business and the industry in the long-term. I believe the music industry is in terrible shape and music sales are at the lowest they’ve ever been since the music industry began. The real question is how did it get this way? It seems that the music companies caused their own downfall with greed which has been felt by the buying public. Music sales have fallen overall including dips in sales going back to the 1980s and up swings in the 90s and just like most industries, the music business has taken its lumps along the way. As with everything in life, the music business charges us money to death ….user fees are the buzz words.

Even with radio where we all get our ears tuned into music at any time, advertisers are buying ads which relate to less music content and more talk. As they say talk is cheap, and it seems that most conventional radio stations have shifted to talk and less music. Spotify, YouTube, and other forms like Sirius Radio, Sonos all need to be purchased as a subscription. When someone listens to a song on one of these formats, then the recording company gets about a penny or less in royalties. The artists may get a fraction of what the recording company gets. When someone buys a single, then they pay a dollar or two which means the music industry is generating at least a hundred times the revenue of the radio or some other ad-based format. When a person buys an album, they get about 10 songs and pay ten times the amount that they would for a single.

Apple is here….no not the one you eat, but the platform you pay for. When apple came along and offered both the iPod and iTunes where customers could buy a single or an album of music…. this is when the world in music really changed in my humble opinion. This Apple revolution stopped customers from buying at a record store because everything could be purchased online . This phenomenon shocked the music industry and it has never recovered.

Many music industry watchers would say that greed killed it and not the Apple music revolution. Music companies themselves caused their own downfall and most stopped selling music and turned to the touring part of the music business. You can say that Apple was the disruptor. The second shoe to drop on the music industry was Spotify and having them offer a subscription platform where you need not buy a single or an album any longer, you can get it all in one package.

The one difference between Apple and Spotify is that the Apple platform has you tied down with no movement of music from one platform to another. Once you buy music from apple and it is downloaded to your cell, that music cannot be transferred to another device. Apple has you locked in and wants you to keep buying tunes to replace the ones that you had purchased. With Spotify, you take the subscription with you to any platform. Complicated you may say…. l say it’s all about the money.

The music companies have moved out of the record business and into the touring side of things. They have adapted and are using social media to hype up concerts and generate big revenues for themselves and to a less extent the artists. The exception being the likes of Taylor Swift and Drake who are both on world tours racking up tremendous amounts of money. The unfortunate thing with these tours is that the price for tickets is very unaffordable for many average families. But the social media pressure has created stress on many families to purchase tickets for their kids. In some cases, a ticket for a Taylor Swift concert could cost more than a month’s salary or more for many hard-working families.

Some artists can cross generational boundaries, and some have with great success and it looks like Taylor Sift may just be one of them. The one musician for me that has been able to do that is Herb Albert where his music to this day still resonated with young and old consumers. A Taylor Swift ticket today can run you a pretty penny. l personally know of someone paying twenty-six thousand dollars US for a pair of tickets at Madison Square Gardens in New York City for her concert that took place a couple of months ago. Totally outrageous to me, but hey someone paid for it.

At the end of the day corporate greed has been successful at taking the fun and enjoyment out of the music scene and putting it into our monthly payment plans. When we pay our bills and we see the monthly fee for music, it has a turn off effect. In some cases, it comes down to food on the table or music in my ears.

Great music is really the only thing that can save the music industry.

Vince Nigro/MS

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