3 Big Things Happening In The Music Industry In 2018

As DIY musicians, it’s important you and I keep up with what’s going on in the industry. 


So as we welcome the new year, here are three important things happening in the music industry in 2018.

iTunes Is Removing Digital Music Downloads

As of 2016, iTunes started phasing out digital music downloads. And the plan is to finalize the whole process by 2019.

According to Digital Music News, there will be a “complete termination by 2019, shortly after the 2018 Christmas season.” And this is happening “as music downloads continue to collapse.”

If you didn’t know by now, you should — streaming is the new way of doing things. So if you’ve released music, you should get it to places like Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, and Amazon.

You can use this guide to get you started: How To Sell Your Music Online (A Guide For Beginners).

Things Will Get Better For Songwriters

In a landmark deal, the songwriting industry and music streaming companies partnered to cut a deal with the federal government, reports The Tennessean.

Without getting too much into the legal jargon, here’s what the new deal means: streaming companies will now be able to easily license songs, while songwriters and publishers should see an increase in their own digital rates.

Here’s a little more detail on what the deal will lead to:

  • “Songwriters and publishers could be identified more accurately and paid more promptly,” thanks to a soon-to-be mechanical digital rights organization run by music publishers and funded by streaming companies
  • Boosted royalty rates for songwriters, thanks to rate courts being able to look at sound recording royalty rates as a factor when they set rates for songwriters and publishers
  • More boosted royalty rates for songwriters, thanks to us being able to present as evidence for more royalties the sync licensing deals (our music in TV/film) we get.
  • ASCAP and BMI can take their rate-setting disputes to any of the federal judges for the Southern District of New York, instead of being assigned to one federal judge

The DIY Music Train Will Keep Chugging — Hop On

Now is one of the best times to be a DIY musician.

Anyone can record music in their bedroom and make it sound professional (check out the Audio Recording category for more on that). It’s so easy and affordable to distribute your music worldwide.

There are plenty of ways to make money as a musician, sometimes without even leaving home. And tools for musicians abound, like CD Baby, Patreon, and LANDR.

If you’ve been on the fence about pursuing music as your passion, as your source of income, now is the best time to jump off that fence on the right side.

Here’s Why Age Doesn’t Matter In The Music Industry

Sometimes I wish I did more when I was a younger musician. And now I’m almost 30 and haven’t yet found the “success” I’m going after.

Music business
image via Amelia007 – DeviantArt

In hindsight, it’s so easy to see how I could have done more or done better.

I put out my first release when I was 19 years old, and I wonder what I’ve been doing all this time. But I’m learning that age doesn’t matter in the music industry.

There’s a lot of pressure to “make it” as a young artist (sidenote: you define what “making it” looks like for you). With the Justin Biebers and the Shawn Mendeses of the world, we musicians can feel that if we haven’t found our success by age 21, we’re through.

But let me point out some big-named musicians who found success later in life…

Leonard Cohen released his first album in 1967 when he was 33 years old. On that album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, was his hugely successful “Hallelujah.” In 2010, when he was 76 years old, he won the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Bill Withers released his debut album, Just As I Am, in 1971 when he was 33 years old. It included  “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Better Off Dead,” and  “Hope She’ll Be Happier.”

Sheryl Crow, after teaching for several years and playing in bands in her spare time, recorded her first album when she was 29 years old, but then shelved it because it sound too “slick.” Then she started playing with the band The Tuesday Music Club in the early 90’s. On their album Tuesday Night Music Club was the hit “All I Wanna Do.” And then she didn’t release her solo album until her mid-30’s.

There are so many other musicians who have found success later in life, including Andrea Bocelli, 2 Chainz, and Michael Fitzpatrick of Fitz and the Tantrums.

I’m saying this to myself too: don’t let your age scare you out of doing what you love, whether you’re still in high school, approaching retirement, or somewhere in between.

Just do what Sheryl does:

Hard-Earned Money For My Hard-Earned Songs

I’ve had to ask for money quite often in my life. It always came to me as a kid without even asking.

That was a great time in life. Unfortunately, I’m not a kid anymore.

I hate asking for money. I’m proud. I don’t want to admit that I need something from someone else.

That’s why I sometimes have the urge to feel guilty when I ask people to open their digital wallets and give wheels to my music.

My pride fights the movement of my music.

It’s not begging, and I’m not stealing people’s money.

It’s an exchange of goods. 

If you buy a ticket to a concert, you get to go inside. But if you pay a little more, you get V.I.P. seats. And if you pay even more than that, you get backstage.

So it is for crowdfunding. 

RELATED: The Reinvention of The Fan

For example, with a Kickstarter campaign or a Patreon page, the more you pay, the greater rewards you get. You get exclusive rewards in exchange for your cash (or numbers on a screen).

When I run a crowdfunding campaign, the fan and I are exchanging hard-earned money for hard-earned songs and other rewards. Just the same as buying a CD or a ticket to a concert.

I don’t think crowdfunding should produce guilt or agitation on either side. We’re all friends here, right?

Disagree with everything I just said? Comment below, let’s talk.

How Steve Jobs Changed The Music Industry

Steve Jobs truly changed the music industry, and we don’t even realize it.

via www.phonearena.com

Apple launched iTunes in 2001 and has since changed how the music industry works, whether accidentally or not.

Mr. Jobs declared that all songs, no matter the quality, are worth $0.99 in the iTunes store. Despite the fact that songwriters and musicians work hard to create and record their unique art, Jobs leveled the playing field and made it all worth the same.

Is the price of $0.99 equal to the hours spent on one song?

A song may take hours upon hours to write and record. And as I write this, the minimum wage in Pennsylvania is $7.25, according to the United States government — if you were to apply this wage to a musician’s work, each of their songs could cost $20 or more.

Obviously, no one is going to pay that much for one song, but you can see how low the rate-of-pay is for a musician selling his or her song on iTunes.

RELATED: Spotify — $0.80 Is Better Than $0.00

Plus, organizations that put musicians’ music on iTunes (i.e. CDBaby.com, Tunecore.com) take a percentage of each song sold. So the artist is getting less than $0.99 per song after spending hours to create it.

Also, single songs can be downloaded from an album on iTunes. Back in the day, you had to buy the entire album. Single song downloads didn’t (legally) exist until iTunes. You had to buy the vinyl record, the 8-track, or the CD.

I’m not chewing out Jobs for doing this. I’m merely stating how he and Apple have drastically changed the industry.

RELATED: In The Streaming Age Of Music, Songwriters Need Loyal Fans

Now the emphasis on the single-song download puts more pressure on the songwriter and musician; they have to make all 99 pennies count.