The Music Industry in 2012

Is it just us or has the music industry been in a transitional period for the last decade? It must have been Napster that started this tumultuous period. We went from $20 CDs at Tower Records to .99 cent songs over Itunes and free albums and even CATALOGS using illegal means. Ignore all the doomsayers and lets look positively towards the new year and some things we are excited about. As you recover from your break at LAMA over the holidays, it’s important to brush up with the latest happenings on the business side of things.


For the last few years industry insiders have been heaping praise on streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, and Google Music as being possible game changers. A way to have all the music available   – while offering users premium features to pay for the music they listen to. Supporters pointed to Europe and how Spotify took the world by storm there. The cold hard reality is that labels are realizing there will never be a replacement for the CD when it comes to profit. Metal label Century Media Records famously pulled their artists catalogs from Spotify earlier this year citing that the pricing plans just don’t make sense. Perhaps 2012 will be the year that the artists and labels finally admit to themselves that the profits of the mid 90s are gone forever and keeping music from streaming services is only going to hurt them.


YouTube went from the website to watch cute kittens and silly children to the #1 destination for people to discover, listen, and watch music of all kinds. Radio and MTV don’t even come close to the amount of music being consumed on YouTube on a daily basis. A significant shift came with the VEVO alliance with Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and EMI. Fans hate the ads but the labels and artists love the revenue. It will be interesting to see how YouTube moves into the new year, look for more Live “special” broadcasts such as they did with Coachella this year. Now that Google+ and Google Music are here look for the Google owned YouTube to get more and more compatible with these two services.


The live entertainment landscape has been a paradox for a while. For some artists like U2 and Roger Waters it is the best of times while for other less lucky artists it is the worst of times. For the first half of 2011 Pollstar reported that earnings increased 11% but that probably doesn’t tell the whole tale. With the rise of Groupons, Goldstar, and the internet in general, there have been some embarrassing discounted ticket mishaps with tickets for some big name acts practically being given away. Legacy acts such as Bruce Springsteen and The Eagles learned that fans are getting fed up with their constant returns to their cities and aren’t as willing to pay those expensive service charges to hear the same show they saw last year. On the indie level smaller clubs are having a hard time bringing people in to hear unheard bands when they have to compete with the internet, Playstation, TV, and every other cheaper form of entertainment.


Facebook already aligned with Spotify – but do you really want to see a feed of every song your friend is listening to? We are guilty of finding quite a few new bands just by seeing what YouTube videos our friends post on their wall. There has long been talk about a dedicated music social media service – but it seems that it is more likely the social media music impact will come from one of the pre-existing services. We are very excited to watch Google+ grow and how music will fit into it – especially with their new Google Music service which has some big names attached to it.


Were not talking about your Rebecca Black — so bad its good type novelty act or an Animal Collective ultra cool hipster act — nor are we referring to those with 5 minutes of fame. We are talking about the internet version of The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. A band that has immense pop appeal but also artistic merit. One might try to say Lady Gaga broke on the net – however we would argue she is a hybrid between old wave (MTV, Radio) and new wave (social media, on-line video). We wonder if 2012 will be the year a band breaks completely independently through the internet.

There you have it musicians! The different things music-wise we are looking towards in 2012. Did we leave anything out? Do we have it wrong? Let us know! Have a great break and an even better 2012.

-LAMA Staff

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