Overall, the music industry encompasses the companies and individuals that make profit from music, whether it be through creating and selling live performances or making sound recordings and videos of songs. For that reason, I’m sorry to the readers who expected this article to talk about how the harmonica is the world’s best selling instrument, or how Ireland has won the Eurovision Song Contest seven times. (Yes, you read that correct – the Eurovision Song Contest, not a drinking contest.
What this article aims to do is expose the facts and statistics that highlight the impact of the music industry worldwide, as well as the difficulties facing the industry over the past decade following the digital revolution. Furthermore, this article also aims to answer the question of why radio stations play the same playlists over and over again, as well as identify the challenges facing independent artists and how particular prominent pop and rap stars contribute to the sexualization of Western culture.
10. 95% Of All Online Music Downloads Are Considered Illegal
This statistic may not be too shocking… I mean let’s be honest: the last time you paid for a piece of music was when you couldn’t find it on YouTube. However, the recent ability to access and download music for free online has done serious damage to the music industry’s profits. According to a study conducted by the Institute for Policy Innovation, the US economy loses an estimated $12.5 billion in revenue annually due to online piracy in the music industry.
9. The Average Musician Makes $23 For Every $1,000 In Music Sold
When it comes to selling music, it’s the record label and distributors that take the largest share of the profit. From a $1,000 sale, the label is expected to take on average at least $630 whilst the distributors take $230. This leaves $140 to the band, which will often include not only the artist, but also the producer, managers and lawyers. Based on this breakdown of how $1,000 would typically be distributed, it’s easy to see why artists often complain about how little they earn from the music they spend countless hours writing, rehearsing, recording and performing.
8. 98.9% Of All Digital Music Tracks In Existence In 2011 Sold Fewer than 1,000 Copies
Yeah, you read that correctly: almost 99% percent of all digital music tracks sold fewer 1,000 copies in 2011. That’s an astounding 7,931,408 out of 8,020,660 songs which failed to sell over 1,000 copies online. If you think that statistic is crazy, you’ll also be amazed to know that 73.9% of all digital music tracks sold fewer than 10 copies in 2011. These statistics were revealed by Harvard Business School Professor Anita Elbe in her book, Blockbusters: Hit-making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment. At first glance, Elbe’s research may appear surprising, but after considering it for a few seconds, her work actually points to a fact we all know: it’s both very easy and preferable to obtain music online for free, whether it be through streaming, downloading or torrenting from the hundreds of available websites and applications.
7. Apple’s iTunes Store Is The Largest Music Retailer In The World
Although the number of people who buy music online declines every year, the people who continue to purchase music are inclined to do so from iTunes. In 2012, it was revealed that the iTunes Store had a 64% share of the online music market, and a 29% share of all music sales globally. In 2014, Apple announced more than 35 billion songs had been sold through iTunes. As of today, the iTunes Store faces close competition from competitors like Amazon Music, who recently overtook them as the UK’s biggest music retailer.
6. Revenue From Streaming Sources Outpaced Traditional CD Sales In The US For The First Time
As you may have noticed around your local neighbourhoods, retailers like HMV, Rogers and Blockbuster have largely vanished. Unable to compete with the evolving technological revolution, these retailers which made their profit through physical CDs and DVDs lost customers to online streaming sources like Spotify, Pandora and a number of others. In 2014, the digital revolution’s impact was truly felt when for the first time – revenue from streaming sources outpaced traditional CD sales in the United States.
5. The Music Market Is Controlled By Three Major Corporate Labels
Since 2012, three major corporate labels have secured control over roughly 90% of the music market. These three corporations are Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group. The remaining 10% of the market is considered the independent sector, which consists of a number of independent labels. Essentially, if musicians are aiming to rake in the cash and become superstars, their best hope is to secure a record label with either of the big three. However, in recent years, the independent sector has been challenging the status quo, with artists like Macklemore, Mac Miller, Childish Gambino, Ray J, Tech N9ne and notable others releasing tracks and albums that have made it to the top of the music charts.
4. Universal Music Group Had A Hand In 20 Of The Top 25 Charting Hip-Hop Singles In 2013
Considering that UMG is the largest music corporation in the world, this statistic may not appear too surprising. UMG owns a number of prominent record labels, including Cash Money, Def Jam, Island Records, Republic Records, Aftermath, Roc-A-Fella, GOOD Music, TDE and Bad Boy. Thousands of prominent artists are signed to UMG, including Rihanna, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Maroon 5, Katy Perry, The Black Eyed Peas, Lil Wayne, and Snoop Dogg.
3. The United States Is The World’s Largest Music Market
According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s “2014 Recording Industry In Numbers” report, the United States is the world’s largest music market, amounting to $4.47 billion in sales and accounting for a little over 30% of global trade revenues. In second place is Japan, followed by Germany, the United Kingdom and France. However, what the IFPI also revealed was how overall global record industry revenues continue to show a steady decline. Since 1999, global recorded music income has declined every year.
Ever turned on the radio and then immediately turned it off because the station is playing the exact same song it played yesterday and the day before at the exact same time? If so, well done, you’re a human being.
What you may not know is that there’s two major reasons why radio stations have a tendency to play the same playlist of songs on repeat over and over again: first, it’s a known fact that people prefer to hear songs they’ve already listened too in the past; and second, it’s because radio stations don’t independently decide which songs they play. The songs which are played are largely determined by PR experts who are paid to influence radio stations in an effort to promote particular artists. Historically, this pay-to-play process is known as “payola,” and it was made illegal a number of years ago. However, in this day and age with the number of legal loopholes and influence of big money, payola still occurs on a large scale through so-called “independent promoters,”and a series of complex advertiser agreements between music companies and broadcasters.
1. The Stars Of The Music Industry Contribute Massively To The Sexualization Of Western Culture
There’s literally an abundance of examples over the last decade of rap and pop tracks which include lyrics increasingly pertaining to promiscuity and the sexualization of women. Don’t just take my word for it, pick and listen to three random songs by The Weeknd or Iggy Azalea, and you’ll understand what I’m getting at. This point isn’t too demonize the current pop stars – it’s rather to highlight a simple statement of fact: increasingly, the lyrics in rap and pop refer to promiscuity and sex. As a result, young women listening to this music growing up are being taught by their role models to wear more revealing clothing and men are taught that it’s okay to refer to women as “b–ches.” Again, I’m not blaming the pop or rap stars, as many of them don’t write their own lyrics and are paid to do what they do. Likewise, I’m not blaming the music industry, as sex sells in almost every industry. However, what I am claiming is that we shouldn’t be surprised by the increasing sexualization and insecurity amongst young adults.