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Why music is losing value (for some)

And one more opinion on the subject that dominates the music world. Prices are falling, listeners (not fans) are demanding, business models are delivering, and those who could have made a difference just watched. A few reasons - and a solution directly for musicians.

You can't really be angry with today's kids if they don't know the value of music. Anyone who grew up with certain price (and free) models is hard to persuade in retrospect to suddenly pay more - and understandably also indignant. And if you can stream thousands of songs for 4.99 a month, you will find it difficult to recognize the proportionality of a 12-track album at a price of 12.00 to 15.00 euros. You could say that we are already too deep in the swamp. A way out seems very difficult, only a stagnation of the price level would still offer a small measure of security.

The polluters
Illegal file-sharing exchanges have made a significant contribution to the decline in values, but the aim here is to focus more on new business models - or on the imitation of existing models.

Whether download portal or streaming service, they all basically offer the same thing. Nobody can score with a better repertoire, not even with a better experience, because the experience - namely the music - remains the same in the end. As a result, the easiest way to secure market share as a supplier is the price. The price for the consumer as well as for advertisers.

So unfortunately there will always be someone in the future who will demand less money than the others, even if only for a short time - and thus lower the “perceived” price level.

Also in the area of ​​film music (or badly: stock music) there are more and more low-cost providers who do not advertise with quality, not even with competence, but with price. If you as an unknown musician in the USA can still collect synch fees of between 300 and 900 dollars for a TV placement of a song - similarly high royalties on top of that - there are portals in the Middle and Far East where you can specify the temporally and spatially unlimited usage rights a piece of music for as much as $ 20.

Watch instead of acting
The industry looked on almost without doing anything. At least for far too long, which has changed their negotiating position decisively to their disadvantage. The idea of ​​participating in advertising revenue and blank licenses was probably approved in far too good faith, instead of taking a clear stand and saying “You will no longer get our music below the price X”.

The number of songs used at a flat rate is growing much faster than the user and advertising income that the provider uses for financing. As a result, the cake has to be distributed to more and more hungry people, which naturally makes the pieces smaller and smaller.

Someone should have stood up and said "Dear business modelers, if you don't manage to raise enough money to pay the right holders the appropriate amount X for each song, your business model has just failed". After all, I can't just open a supermarket that sells liters of milk for a cent and force the farmers to their knees with wild slogans.

A solution for musicians
While industry and politics still have a chance of making a difference in the long run, “small” self-marketing musicians are basically alone. You won't be able to change the market overnight. You can only do what is best for you.

Fans instead of consumers
Instead of addressing those music consumers with their own music marketing who want to get the hit from the beach bar or the last World Cup song quickly, as a musician you will find grateful buyers in the real fans. These are people who have developed their own taste in music, are actively looking for new music in their direction, listen to this music consciously, appreciate its value and the work of the musicians and are not infrequently real music collectors.

These fans need to be reached directly and through appropriate media in apparently obscure stylistic niches such as reggaeton, doom metal, Schranz or jump blues.

In my case these are, for example, melodic rock and hair metal fans, 75% male, over 35, who I hardly find on Facebook, but who rather find me through CD reviews, interviews, appearances in popular online radio programs or while browsing through relevant Shops. And these fans don't really want to stream or download, they buy more than 90% CDs.

Fans, their habits and their purchasing behavior are of course different in every style corner - but they actually exist, lovers of good music. The promotion of one's own music should therefore be aimed specifically at those people who are prepared to pay reasonable prices for music - the conversion of the “unbelievers” can be put on the back burner.

As much as the last Spotify statement may surprise you, as angry you get when you find your own album to download illegally for free on the Internet - don't get angry (at least not past the 10-minute mark ...), but the right ones Serving fans. This grouping is significantly smaller than the trend-driven masses, but they are enthusiastic and loyal.

In other words, it's better to find a new fan who will also buy my next four albums than to woo ten consumers who buy a song just once because it's hip right now. For a long time, being hip and being trendy is not an indicator of great success. When was the last time you heard Nana Mouskouri on the radio? The good lady has sold far more (over 250 million) albums than 99% of all performers who arrive every day via the airwaves in the offices, workshops and on the ironing boards. She just has a loyal fan base.

So, keep building your loyal fan base. It's hard work today, but a real blessing on harvest day ...

Action plan

  • Define your own style (that works, everyone fits into any (main) drawer)
  • Define your own target group (which type of person exactly likes this music)
  • Find target audience (which blogs, websites, magazines does she read ...)
  • this would mean finding the right media at the same time
  • Find mailorder shops in exactly this style corner
  • sample the appropriate media, equip shops
  • never stop


I wish you success

- Julian Angel

P.S. the MusicBiz Madness Conference 2014 will take place on October 12th. took place in Frankfurt. You can find all information here.

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