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article imageOp-Ed: Big win for music as online sales beat retail for first time

By Paul Wallis     Jan 6, 2012 in Entertainment
Sydney - The death grip of the recording “industry” on musicians and content has finally been broken by online sales. For the first time ever, online sales have overtaken retail market share. Online sales were 50.3% of the gross for 2011.
The Daily Telegraph:
Downloads were up 8.4 per cent from 2010, according to Nielsen data and a Billboard report and only 49.7 per cent of music was sold in stores last year, down 5 per cent from the previous year.
And the music industry has Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj and Adele to thank for the increase in online sales.
Gaga was the most streamed artist of 2011, and Adele's album 21 was the top selling album of 2011 both on and offline
This is the tide coming in. Bear in mind these sales come during the biggest recession since the Great Depression. The simple fact is that this is all based on the bottom line economics and realities of making and buying music-
1. A USB can do more than a recording studio, if you’ve got the right gear. Forget patches and pre-recorded dummy rhythm tracks, you can do it all yourself.
2. You can record, mix and release from a very basic setup.
3. It never has needed to cost millions to record an album- It’s people’s egos and in some cases money laundering that crank up the prices.
4. Sound quality is based on ears, not mixers and middlemen. If your ears are working, you can get great sound anytime.
5. You can get your mixes done remotely by good engineers, too.
6. Who needs (or has ever needed) a herd of out of touch suits telling you what to play? Adele went viral based largely on her YouTube hit Rolling in the Deep, and a great voice will always have listeners. All she really needed was a mike and a camera.
7. Online music cuts out the middlemen and musicians can deal direct. That means they actually get paid, not given lectures in accountancy and contract law which lead up to them not being paid.
8. The audience. Who needs to roam the music stores looking for hard copy? It's inefficient, expensive and often frustrating. The current generation has never been subjected to the recording industry monopoly in its traditional form. People under 20 might or might not believe that the entire music industry was “streamed” through TV and radio in the past. What they wouldn’t believe is that they had so little choice, compared to the huge range of artists online now.
Downloads and related media are in their prenatal state. This is only the beginning.
The future of music is going to be a vast range of new methods and options.
For example:
Online symphonies, musicals and other media
Avant garde music (actually avant garde, not recycled, for the first time in decades)
Musical games
Online live jamming
Web Woodstocks?
3D music- the 3D translation of recording to live sound
The point is that there’s nothing musical that you can’t do online. The new music will be bigger than the Super Bowl. It’ll be freer than the 60s ever were. If you’re a musician, learn about your copyright issues. If you’re a music fan, prepare to be blown away to places you’ve never been.
Just for fun- Check out the Black Keys' Lonely Boy- Can't stop playing it.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about online music sales 2011, Itunes, Adele, rolling in the deep, Billboard Nielsen sales stats 2011
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