Sunday, September 28, 2014

If You Think the Book Industry Has It Tough...

Nearly three weeks ago, I read a Digital Music News article about increasingly dismal sales for artists in the music industry. As I don’t know much about the music business, the article shocked me enough to still be thinking about it. The similarity with some of the problems in the book industry was disconcerting, to say the least.

The article maintains that the music industry is failing because artists are having more difficulty making money from audio releases. In fact, every new platform earns less money for the musician. Streaming earns less than downloads and downloads earn less than CDs. The article goes on to say, (and this is really disheartening) that music buyers place less value on music now more than ever. YouTube and piracy, for instance, don’t cost the listener anything which also means no income for the musician. People can now listen to music their entire lives without ever paying a cent for it. This is why the article also states that 99.9% of musicians survive on day jobs.

Here’s another point. The sheer volume of artists is so vast that it is become harder for an artist to get noticed. Music fans are flooded with music and videos and games and all sorts of things to keep them busy and distracted from sticking with an artist.

The article goes onto say that that traditional record stores have all but imploded and that major labels, who were once the source of  income and innovation for musicians, are but a fraction of their former selves. Is any of this sounding familiar to you book folks yet?

There are many more important points in the article, but my question is, are we in the book business doomed to suffer the same fate? Is it possible to avoid some of the mess that the music industry is in? Although books aren’t streamed the way music is, there are so many similar challenges that it feels like we’re falling into a twin rabbit hole. Who knows what will appear on the other side? As mentioned, I don’t know much about the music industry, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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