A Help or a Hindrance? : Do Musicians Benefit from Technological Change?

From analogue to Digital? Good or Bad?


Okay so we all know that video killed the radio star, but who has slaughtered label companies profit with free downloads? From autotune to iTunes, the advancements continually increase to the point of saturation. One can ask what new innovations will proceed in subsequently destroying the free download services online? As technology advances, artists try to adapt to the current experimental musical market. Marketing for such an environment is considerably tough. Now we are almost a completely digitally orientated audience. Given the ubiquitous nature of technology, it also creates difficulties with exclusivity of a product , service or brand. Is this competition healthy for the market? Does it produce a competitive advantage?  For example, Nine Inch Nails frontman (Trent Reznor ) after falling out with his record label, lashed back with an extremely shrewd business operation. He devised a strategy which both benefitted himself and the consumer. His album was released in four fragments on the web, part of the album was available for free download, the entire album could be purchased for an afforable $5, ($10 for a hard copy) and for $75 the customer could get the deluxe special edition of the original album, encompassed with additional tracks and a signed copy from the budding entrepreneur himself. The last purchasing procedure was limited to only 2,500 individuals, therefore transforming what would appear as the least popular option to an exclusive buy for the consumer. Although known for this soaring vocals, he is not known as a leader in technological developments however, businesses could certainly learn a thing or too from the clever musician’s master plan.

“The lesson for business is that you need to find an audience, using free as part of the strategy. You need to understand your audience and be able to speak to them directly, and finally you need to be able to find and enable superfans to spend lots of money on things they really value”  - The Irish Times



Similarly, apps being the most palpable phenomenon of our day has been a very important paradigm for all artists. For example, apps like Bjork’s Biophillia are now designed to comprise the album theme with the app content. One can also take stems from the tracks and mimic them into different sounds, enhancing the overall user experience.

Spotify has also aided in the rapid transformation from analogue to digital. Being a constant streaming service , some artists look upon it unfavourably, others like Billy Bragg encourage ‘the on’ demand service.

“Music fans are increasingly streaming their music and as artists, we have to adapt ourselves to their behaviour, rather than try to hold the line on a particular mode of listening to music.” The Guardian.

College times wants your view? Is technology a good or bad thing?

Eva Watson

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