The internet has transformed the world and the music industry as we know it. Before everybody was hooked up to the World Wide Web, the music scene was a very different place. Twenty years ago, consumers relied more heavily on CDs, The Charts and the radio. It was a time when mix tapes were rife and people brought CDs or cassettes to parties.
Advancements in technology meant that hard copies of music were no longer a necessity- the introduction of the digital mp3 pushed out the requirement to own CDs. Similar to mix tapes, listeners would borrow a friend’s CD, copy the music to their computer and have an electronic copy of the CD.
The Internet shook things up further, as connection speeds increased, file sharing became more common. Consumers illegally used programmes like Napster and Limewire to pirate music, waiting for many hours to download a single track. Pirated music became a widespread problem for record labels as there was no way to police the music duplication.
The advent of social networking also brought a whole new element to the music industry, with MySpace providing a platform for users to follow musicians and discover new bands. YouTube has meant that consumers no longer have to rely on MTV or purchase a band’s video or DVD to watch their music videos. Streaming services like Spotify and Pandora give listeners access to any music from anywhere with an internet connection.
So technology and the internet have changed the way we source and listen to music but it has also changed the way music is produced. Where twenty years ago, aspiring artists would rely on corporate bigwigs to listen to their demo disc, the internet has put some power back in their artist’s hands.
Thanks to the internet, musicians and singers now have more control over their own fates. They are able to produce their own track, upload it to the internet and promote it accordingly. This not only helps listeners discover them but also producers, helping them to get signed and make it big time.
Viral videos and social media also have a huge influence on the music industry, with the song behind Psy’s Gangnam Style topping charts in many countries, where in the past music charts solely depended on the song not the video.
Producing music has also become more accessible and more affordable with some artists recording work in their home, or hiring out a recording studio for a day. Luke Henderson of Fluke Productions, a recording studio in London recognises that compared with twenty years ago, it is much easier for artists to kick start their career. As soon as a track is uploaded to the internet it can be accessed by people across the world if they know where to look.
With internet connectivity continuing to improve and the penetration of smartphones only set to increase, technology and the internet are predicted to maintain a firm hold on how music is consumed, shared and produced. These advancements are welcomed by most as it gives the both the listener and artist both more choice and power.