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Berklee + Nielsen Report on Music Industry
August 26, 2015

According to the Nielsen’s Music 360 2014 study, (mostly free) online streaming is now the go-to format for music listeners.

Per Nielsen’s 2014 data, 93% of surveyed Americans said they listened to music more than 25 hours per week, with 67% opting to stream, and only 5% paying for their music service.

Of course, ‘free music’ isn’t sustainable. Artists (not just Taylor Swift), publishing companies, even the U.S. Copyright Office have made it very clear that something’s got to change.

(This chart by David McCandless, a data journalist at Information is Beautiful, elegantly displays how economically distressing our listening habits have become.)

streaming payments to artistsNielsen’s study also stated that total traditional album sales (including digital albums) fell 11.9% last year, though alternative sources (think Bandcamp) actually increased, albeit minimally.

Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) noted these trends and decided to do something, recently releasing its own report titled “Fair Music: Transparency and Money Flows in the Music Industry”.

“By highlighting recommendations—and not simply uncovering existing issues—our goal is to bring together industry stakeholders, technologists, academics, and others to push forward with crafting solutions in the near-term,” explains Allen Bargfrede, BerkleeICE’s project’s leader.

Among their reports’ recommendations:

  • Create something similar to a fair trade certification: “Fair Pay” (ensuring the artist was fairly paid).
  • Create a non-profit, “decentralized” PRO (similar to U.S. Copyright Office’s suggestion).
  • Use crypto currencies to monitor user payments.
  • Education initiatives to music makers – know your rights!

While the data and artist suggestions may not seem like much, it’s encouraging to see efforts made to provide some direction–and options–from third parties.

Because in this brave new music world, one thing will never change: our passion for music. The listeners are still listening. Everywhere. All the time. But they clearly can’t just keep listening for free.

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