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How has the music industry changed over the last 10 years?

As 2021 comes to a close and 2022 is ushered in, the shift in the music industry over the last 10 years becomes more obviously apparent. The industry in 2012 was vastly different today. The music has changed; the popular genres have changed and many of the artists from 2012 have gradually been replaced. The music industry is a cut throat business and relies heavily on the sink or swim attitude the public has about music. For many years, this has meant that only the most popular artists get the best distribution, tours, music venue performances and publicity. 

2012 saw the beginning of this change, newer artists such as Gotye and Carly Rae Jepson featured extensively on the charts whilst the invasion of Gangnam Style took the west by storm. These artists did not have the same publicity as Rihanna, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj but managed to beat them to the number ones throughout the year. This was an example of what was to come, the gradual fading of the industry darlings and the success of less publicised musicians. 

The rise of hip-hop and rap was firmly in place too. Success for artists like Jay-Z and Kanye West demonstrated how far Rap had come from its humble 1980s roots. However, rap and hip-hop had successfully infiltrated the pop scene too with regular features for rap musicians on pop tracks. In 2012 this included Wiz Khalifa, WILL.I.AM and Flo Rida. This drew in larger audiences for the pop musicians but also opened many young people up to the world of rap music. Ultimately this reached its peak in 2017 when Rap music overtook rock to become the most popular genre of music in the USA. 

As the decade since 2012 continued on, the rise on the internet furthered the changes to the music industry. In 2012 music was still commonly purchased on the iTunes store and in physical copies. The rise of YouTube and streaming revolutionised this archaic industry into the modern ages. YouTube allowed music videos to be watched by hundreds of millions and in some cases billions of people. Music videos had always been popular, but the restriction of TV showings kept views limited. Gangnam Style currently sits on 4.5 billion views on YouTube and demonstrates the power of successful music videos. Meanwhile the rise of streaming on Spotify, Apple music and Tidal saw a huge shift away from song purchases. Artists are paid a cut from adverts and subscription fees depending on how many streams a record gets.

The music industry also saw huge changes to traditional labels. Artists such as Chance the Rapper and Frank Ocean have proved that success can happen without the backing of a major label. Both artists have earned number 1’s and have millions of streams for their music without having a record label. These artists earn more money per song and reduce their costs. This is not an easy feat as the record label will typically help to promote the artist’s music and grow the artist’s brand. However, with the rise of YouTube, Social media and streaming, an artist can viably go viral without the aid of the industry. 

The rise of TikTok and streaming in the last 5 years have seen a change in the format of songs. Pop music typically would last somewhere between 3and 6 minutes, however as all forms of content become shorter and more concise this has gradually fallen. Artists such as Lil Nas X have found that shorter songs typically increase streams and therefore increase total income. Montero is 2 minutes 16 seconds, whilst Panini and Old Town Road are both under 2 minutes. This is not simply laziness on the artist’s behalf but the most practical way to encourage listeners to replay the song. With Tik Tok this has gone to a further extreme where a song can be boiled down to the best 30 seconds or minute and used to create viral content. This has also seen the rise of surprise features, Lil Nas X used Billy Rae Cyrus on the Old Town remix whilst Tech N9ne features Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on his song Face Off. These features are viral worthy and generate talk around the song. This works to benefit all parties involved. 

The evolution of this industry is never ending. Previously this an industry that has seen Glam Rock, Punk, Heavy Metal, Gangsta Rap and many more genres take centre stage and then eventually make way for the newest trends. This is unlikely to stop any time soon and the evolution will continue. Looking back in 2032 at the previous decade will be even more enlightening as this 60-billion-dollar industry continues to grow and develop. 

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