The following article was submitted by Olivia Coléon:
In a recent interview, I asked the founder of Cantora Records, Nick Panama, the future of the music business. After a few minutes of sitting across from each other sipping our coffees and wading on the answer, Nick finally said,
“The future of the music industry isn’t what I think, what you think, or the guy working at the biggest labels in the world thinks it’s going to be. The whole game of music is changing. And it is changing in ways that will make sense to us in maybe ten years. But for now, all I can do – all you can do – is work as hard as you can with your imagination and creativity to make the world of music a place you enjoy being in and surrounded by.”
Now it was my turn to think of a response. The uncertainty of the music business is at its peak as digital technology is shifting entire listening habits and experiences. Popular conscious believes that the music industry is on the downfall, is actually dying, but please ask yourself: how can the one experience that transcends global boundaries and is shared across the world subside in even the smallest sense? It is just the whole idea of the industry that is changing. It is no longer the major music conglomerates that we so often think of or associate with the music world that will lead this revolution. The digital shakedown has made way for the visionaries of the music business, the mid-size artists, the comeback of the live performance and all those who were overpowered by the music moguls to stand forth as the up and coming leaders and innovators of the New Music World.
The scale of this shift is intimidating and all eyes are on the music industry. A change similar to this occurred in the 1960s, when the difference between the rigid music of the 1950s was replaced by the revolution and progression of rock-n-roll. What happened during this time was a draw to the stage. Since the music industry was unable to control the desires of the people and the divide between what older generations liked and what the newer generations needed, musicians took matters into their own hands and created the spirit of the live performance. What artists did was take a step back from the commotion of the industry and dived into their way of enjoying the business, while holding the hands of their supporters.
The current day of the music industry resembles this period of musical history quite well and it is good news – for everyone – that the essence of live shows has endured. I remember the first time I went to a concert. I was 11 years old and my father brought me to a venue in New York City’s Central Park, called SummerStage. Although I do not remember the band or artist we saw, the aura of the afternoon has stayed with me since. Everything was foreign to me, but in no way did I feel like an outsider; I was on the same beat as everyone else. The carefree atmosphere, the people dancing, and the feeling of music left my body buzzing for days.
This ethereal sensation describes the inherent nature of the live music experience. Over a decade later, with industry involvement and knowledge under my belt, I understand that it is this experience that stabilizes the music business. It was just forgotten under the glamour of the record label and high-end promotional tools like MTV. Therefore, it is no wonder that so many artists are returning to the stage during a period of significant unbalance in the music industry. And when listeners are unsure of where to find their music (should we illegally download songs for free, drive to the record store for an album, or spend money on iTunes?), live performances reassure the world that the music industry is as creative and fun as ever.