It’s been some time now since the music business has morphed from a big, monolithic culture industry to whatever it is at present — independent, fragmented, and highly digital, for starters. The change has been driven by technological innovation at every step in the musical value chain. Composing, recording, mixing, production and distribution are readily available to anyone with an inclination to make and put out music, and as EMI’s Barka Moffit notes here, consumers of music are more interested in access than ownership. Such online outlets as YouTube and Spotify are becoming massive, globally shared music collections.
The grand lament from business concerns, and some artists, is that the money has gone out of making and recording music, which is largely true. All this free and cheap access fails to support the big industry that music once was (remember record stores?). Live performances still draw to a great extent, but selling CDs? Well, it seems rather quaint now, doesn’t it?
The flip side of all these changes is a wealth of access to music for listeners and a wealth of opportunities for musicians to cheaply and easily reach engaged niche audiences. It’s especially a boon for non-mainstream music such as the kind of experimental and electronic music that innovates the aural experience.
One example of the new opportunities for electronic music fans (and musicians) is AtmoWorks. AtmoWorks was co-founded by a friend of mine, MJDawn. With an assortment of collaborators, MJDawn and his partner Vir Unis have released a wide range of electronic explorations, all without the benefit of a big traditional label and old-school distribution.
Click the image below for a sound sample (from Noise of Night (Once Night) by miKroNaught):
Good stuff — soothing future sounds for insomniac nights, perhaps.
And AtmoWorks — it’s a sign of our present DIY music framework. I hope you check out their site.
Finally, what will the future hold for the music industry?
In a way, the present anxiety (as in the Moffit piece referenced above) is the fretting of vested intermediaries (record labels, retailers, etc.) that have in effect been disintermediated. Musicians and listeners, on the other hand, are like lovers; they can’t be kept apart for long. They are beginning to find elegant ways to connect and reward each other, and I trust they will find even more innovative ways to do so in the future.
Consider it liberating.