The search for a sustainable business model for the producing and selling of music in the digital age persists, but it is crippled by a narrow view of the internet. Presenting this technology as either a threat to income, due to its ability to copy content easily, or an opportunity for generating income, due to its instant connectivity to so many, means other key aspects of its influence on the business of money are neglected.
For example, a characteristic of the internet is that traditionally time-consuming tasks – purchasing an album; finding information on an artist – now take an extremely short amount of time, if any at all. Tasks can also be carried out for less money than before, or regularly, no money, whether it be distributing content or communicating with others. If time is still equal to money, then the internet must save us an incalculable amount of both – daily, weekly and annually.
Where do all this these extra euros and hours go? We obviously invest in other purchases and activities, but, listening to the hum of the musical world, it seems that just keeping up with the new, high-speed music market actually demands that additional money and time. In other words, what the internet giveth with one hand, it taketh away with the other. This double-edged-sword view of the internet is at the heart of most discussions regarding a new business model for music.
But it is an illusion. What still hasn’t happened, in these most extraordinary of times, is a change in expectations. Those who traditionally made an enormous amount of money from music still expect to. Those who haven’t, still want to. This model of growth is unsustainable.
Money can be a good incentive to produce music, or a bonus for doing something you love, but beyond a certain level, extra zeros do not equate with better music or more motivation. For such a human, moral issue, it is ironic that it will probably be the internet – a machine – that will eventually teach us this lesson.