The Digital Frontier
It seems like the biggest pop artists are making more money than ever today. At least, that's what it looks like if you check out any of their social media channels. Of course, much of this money isn't coming from actual music sales anymore. While there's definitely still a market for music, and vinyl is doing better than it has in a long while, musicians have had to look elsewhere for their bread and butter. In the current digital age, artists have had to find new and innovative ways to maximise their revenue streams.
Chief among these has been the advent of streaming. Services such as Spotify and Apple Music have become incredibly important to how artists make money and how they gain exposure. The popularity of streaming has also had an enormous effect how on how albums sales are tallied. Music subscription services have never been more popular, and in 2016 the combined platforms boasted more than 100 million subscribers. This is an incredible user base that even eclipses Netflix, which had 87.8 million subscribers at the end of last year.
The overwhelming popularity of these services has also had an interesting impact on album sales. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the recent success of pop-rap superstar, Drake. The rapper was the best-selling artist of 2016 and his most recent release, More Life, is expected to be even more popular than some of its predecessors. The 'playlist' has already registered more than one million sales, and that number is likely to continue to grow as we move into the heat of the summer. The project set a new streaming record when it was released in March of 2017, and has more than proven the power of the digital space for contemporary artists.
But bands are taking advantage of the digital frontier in more ways than just streaming and directly marketing their music to fans. As entertainment moves more toward computers, some artists are making a bigger effort to get their brands in front of new audiences through other means. Some acts, such as Guns N' Roses and the late Jimi Hendrix, have begun licensing their music and likenesses to online video games in an effort to further interact with fans. These games are offered on a hub of the most popular online entertainment pages where fans can find licensed slot reels based on their favourite bands, movies, TV shows, and more. These experiences are simple adaptations of traditional casino arcade titles but have proven to be immensely appealing and have become a valuable additional revenue stream for artists.
Artists have had to adapt as the Internet has shifted the way we consume and listen to music. Recording an album, putting it up for sale, and touring, aren't enough to cut the mustard for most bands. Just as streaming has changed the game in our listening habits, bands have gotten even more creative in finding new ways to be successful, and it will be fascinating to see what they come up with in the future.