Music & Gaming A new way to play
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In today’s music business, the consumer boom is rapidly leading to a creator bust. For the music industry to untangle itself from this dysfunctional loop, it needs to find new ways of monetizing fandom, not simply relying on consumption. Artists need new ways to connect and transact more productively with their immediate fan bases. In the ‘old days’ buying music (CD, cassette, vinyl) was monetizing fandom, because paying a premium for an individual artist’s work bought the sense of belonging to the ‘fan club’ for the consumer. It came with a sense of pride, bragging rights and the cultural cache of the collector. While royalties on these formats were not any higher than on streaming, the individual price paid by the fan was much higher – allowing artists a clear route to commercial and financial success.
In the streaming era, it is a different story. As music fans listen to more not less, and constantly make the trade-off of what to listen to with their limited time available – it is closer to a sampling world. Added to this, music audio is fast becoming a secondary activity, something that people do while doing something else. Streaming’s second-order effect is to turn much of music listening into sonic wallpaper, making it harder for artists to cut through. While the consumption value is still there, the connection and the commitment are lost. Fandom value is diminished and is progressively harder to convert to remuneration for artists. Getting consumers to ‘listen to songs’ is no longer the most optimal way of generating fans, or monetizing fandom.