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Critical perspectives and new media habits [of the music industry]

Schadenfreude: Know the viral videos called FailArmy? When you laugh at someone tripping and falling into the conveniently placed kiddie pool..this is schadenfreude. Its only natural--if someone else isn't doing as well as you, then there must be more for you. For example, if someone else didn't get that job, then your chances are better, and you can feel joy from that.

What a great way to explain how musicians and consumers felt as new internet technologies were created and began the downfall of giant record labels. If the record labels are struggling, then there must be more money to be made in music by more artists.

In another life, I wanted to work for those giant labels. They were so powerful. I dreamed of becoming the next big A&R rep that artists and musicians would trip over to meet me. What now seems like a lifetime ago, that was the nearly the only way a new artist could make it. As we now know, that is no longer the case. But the internet is not the sole answer either.

A few points to show how the music industry looks very different than it did 20-30 years ago.

  • An estimated 68 million people paid for music subscription services in 2015, more than 8 times the level of 8 million people in 2010. (IFPI)

  • In 2015, vinyl sales hit a 28-year high at $416 million. (

  • The total value of the recording industry was $15 billion in 2015, 4x higher than 2010. (IFPI)

The music industry looks different, but just because most of the consumers think its drastically different because of the internet is not quite right either. Just to put a few things into perspective—it hasn’t changed as much as people think.

  • The top 1% of artists earn 77% of recorded music income. (Digital Music News)

  • The average musician only earns 6% from sound recordings. (SSRN)

  • In 2016, streaming revenues went up 45.2%, driving 3.2% global growth. (IFPI)

  • The median pay for musicians and singers in 2015 was $24.20 per hour. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

  • 90.7% of all artists are undiscovered, 6.8% are developing, 1.4% are mid-sized, 0.9% are mainstream, and only 0.2% are considered megastars. (Next Big Sound)

  • It is anticipated that live music revenue in the U.S. will grow from $9.3 billion in 2015 to $11.69 billion in 2020. (Statista)


Perceptions influence human behavior, including the behavior conducted online, with new media. There are perceptions that artists make plenty of money, so many people think “who cares if I download a few songs?”

The phenomena called “fake news” is highly influencing human behavior.In some cases, “may even disrupt global politics” (Vargo et al., 2018). Fake news carries the power to mold public opinion. This included the perceptions surrounding entire organizations.

The term “fake news” shifts the perceptions, in itself. A distinction between fake news and “rumors” is unclear but seems more fitting—the main difference being intentionality. For example, if Fox news knowingly runs an untrue story, this could be deemed “fake news.” Comparatively, if untrue news is being run, but the stations believes it to be true, this would be a rumor—and seems much harder to combat. Further research is needed to understand how black and white this distinction is.

This is where things begin to break-down for the audience. How are they to know what information is accurate and where the information originated. Of course, many audiences, depending on the outlet in which the information was received, do not go farther than taking it at face value. The individual most likely does not bother with fact-checking, clarification, or readings from another point-of-view. With this inherent flaw in society, its obviously possible for perceptions to be skewed by big news and technology companies.

Further research could investigates way in which society could be educated in these practices to create a better informed people that can over-come intentional polarization and scare tactics that are often associated with fake news and rumors.


Academic References:

Haynes, J., & Marshall, L. (2018). Beats and tweets: Social media in the careers of independent musicians. New Media & Society, 20(5), 1973–1993

Vargo, C. J., Guo, L., & Amazeen, M. A. (2018). The agenda-setting power of fake news: A big data analysis of the online media landscape from 2014 to 2016. New Media & Society, 20(5), 2028–2049.

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