The changes to the music industry are not just the COVID situation. You must consider also climate change as a part of the new industry. Tonight another city in Sweden was flooded and all roads were cut off, the fifth just the past month. And these floodings are nothing compared to the flooding in Europe or in Chine earlier in the summer. At the same time, there are big fires in Greece and Turkey. Canada and USA had their fires earlier that were also devasting. All these factors will affect the music industry.
The digital side will not be the solution. After testing out digital conferences and hybrid events we just see that it doesn’t work. It was the best solution when we had nothing. But just for a short while to keep our spirits up. Digital is not working at all. Spotify's mission was that a million creators earning a living out of the platform. As we all know, Spotify said that 13,000 artists earned more than $50,000 dollars a year in March 2021. Many you think? Not really since Spotify also says it holds 25 million creators. If you go down this rabbit hole you will find that in the end, Spotify will just be extra money in the full salary for the artist. The digital is just crunching numbers not making art. It streamlines the listeners to listen to what the system thinks you want but you need something better. And Spotify has been around over 15 years and that is a long time in the digital world.
We are not the cool cat in town. If you asked in the 80:s the young people wanted to be rock stars. My seven year old niece wants to be an influencer. When Dire Straits sang “Money for Nothing, and the chicks for free” we now have to say something that is below nothing. An influencer is like someone said, just an overpaid person that hands out discount codes on energy drinks. Probably what we said about rock star in the 80’s, nothing has really changed. Or has it? The rock star at least performed songs that have lasted and stood the test of time. The influencers are not really contributing much except their own makeup brands.
So back to the main subject. We all know that 52% of the income in the music industry comes from the live industry. All these things are a threat to the music industry. Touring will be harder and more expensive because of all the weather things that climate change is creating. At the same time, it is better to fly an artist in to play than flying the audience of 50,000 in to listen. How many festivals will be shut down because of climate crisis of fire or flooding? Gig places for that matter? It will be hard to insure them or so expensive it will not be worth it.
COVID on its own is just a threat, the pandemic is not over, and it seems it will be years before it will be completely over. We probably will see cluster spreads from time to time and festivals will be blamed. Many have already left the business. Just the start of COVID has had many people change careers.
Do we really need a music industry?
Yes. We need music. All these examples have led to a high spike in mental illness among people. All these crisis situations will lead to more conflicts and people leaving or fleeing whatever they had. In these situations and in times of need music is always very important. The music industry’s job is just to carry the music to more people to hear it. I just feel that job is now is more important than ever.
Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. As well he recently worked as the European Consultant for Heal the Earth – An Earth Day Celebration. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes https://futureechoes.se/