Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Scope of Artist-Entrepreneurship (conference proceeding)

Citation: Peltz, Philipp. "The scope of artist-entrepreneurship in the music industry."Instruments of Change: Proceedings of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music Australia-New Zealand 2010 Conference. International Association for the Study of Popular Music, 2011.


Ambitious musical activities outside of the established structures of the music industry are not new. The number of amateur and unsigned musicians has always outweighed that of professional and signed musicians. Today, the distinction on the basis of being signed by a record label or not is blurring. Decreasing entry barriers enable hobbyists and unsigned artists to enter established markets on a large scale.

The present research project utilised two datasets to estimate the total size of artist-entrepreneurship in the music industry. The findings reveal the sheer scope of this phenomenon. According to the figures, there are five times as many artist-entrepreneurs than artists signed by record labels struggling for consumer's attention. On average, every artist-entrepreneur produces and releases the same amount of music as the group of traditional artists through established structures. Thus, the total amount of new music seeking consumer attention increases by a factor of five. Artist-entrepreneurs generated sales of roughly $7 billion US in 2008. From the data one cannot discern if sales are cannibalized from the established industry or an increase of the total market size. Either way, established players have to rethink their business models and adapt to the new situation. How far this, in the words of Andrew Keen, "flood of amateurs” leads to a loss of culture or to a counter-movement to the mass media and the loss of individuality as criticised by Theodore W. Adorno can not be answered yet.

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