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The Ever Changing Face of the Music Industry

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The world of music over the last 20 years has greatly changed. Beyond just the format in which it is recorded on from vinyl to 8-track, from cassette to CD and now digital downloads, the music industry as a whole has evolved into something beyond just the concept of selling a song.

For many years, music was produced by several major record labels; Sony, MCA, Universal, RCA and Warner Bros. They controlled the market and how their music was promoted to listeners. For the most part, we bought records at stores and called the local radio station asking a DJ to play our favorite song.

Record labels spent millions of dollars producing music videos to play on cable channels promoting their latest act. Those big budgets have been reduced to a fraction of their prior cost, and often musicians find themselves funding music videos at their own expense.

Today, there are two major record labels and a slew of independents, each vying to promote their artists to a sea of consumers. Gone are the days of the record store, though a few places such as Barnes & Noble and Starbucks still sell CD's. Most of us download music for our smartphones online or watch music videos for free on YouTube.

With all the free or almost free avenues to download music from, how does any label survive? According to Opus Label owner Jeremy Wineberg, it often times boils down to how much money you have behind you. The major labels have the money and the marketing machine to get their artists to the marketplace. The independent labels rely heavily on word of mouth via social media outlets.

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Independent artists with smaller budgets have to be very creative in how they make their dollars work for them. One of the best scenarios would be to have a leading DJ to remix your song, which immediately makes it relevant.

Wineberg also noted "Celebrities have a lot of pull in the music world. Having one tweet their favorite song or band creates an instant fan following."

Not only has the format music is presented to the consumer changed, so has the music itself. One of the newest styles of music, EDM has quickly gained a strong following with worldwide sales estimated at $6.2 billion

"People finally realize that electronic music isn't a fad- it's a new epoch that's here to stay" stated EDM DJ Don Vaughn.

"Because electronic sounds are becoming more the norm, infusing dance music with live sounds has a more exotic feel than ever. The guitar riff in Avicii's "Wake Me Up" is so catchy precisely because, now, it stands out. I have a sense success will go to those who best fuse intoxicating electronic with unique live sounds."

Writing songs that appeal to more than one style of music greatly increases a fan base. More and more we are seeing Pop artists writing songs for their fans over EDM music. This places their music in front of potential new fans that perhaps were not listeners before.

With the growing number of outlets offering free music downloads and videos and the challenge of small budgets to get your music in front of the consumer, it's a wonder anyone stays in the business.

"It's an addicting business" according to Wineberg. "The highs are really high and the lows are really low. There are a lot of creative people out there."

So where does this place the future of the music industry? It's hard to say. Many have predicted music will soon be free to everyone (there's little you can't find for free already). The fate of the "undiscovered artist" attempting to be "discovered" by the masses will be one to watch.

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