What happened to music in 2012

28 Dec

2012 had a lot of great music (as well as a lot that made me want to cut off my ears), but the music industry itself also underwent some changes. Here are three of the trends music saw in 2012.

The one man (or woman) band
These days  it’s all about the one-and-two-man (or woman, or woman-and-man) bands. No more are the massive groups featuring drums and backup singers and bassists and guitars and a few other funky instruments. It’s all about an acoustic guitar and melancholy melody.

I understand why it happened. With record companies fronting less money for tours, it’s nearly impossible to take a band on the road and make a name for yourself. With today’s recording technology and predominance of social media, it’s incredibly easy to make music and then promote it as a solo artist.

And, in all fairness, I love many of these one-person acts. My last two posts – Peter Bradley Adams and Dave Baxter – are both solo artists I can’t get enough of. My music library is full of similar musicians. But there are days I pine for, oh, say, the 11-member  Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. They’ve got energy and a sound that just can’t be matched by a solo artist sitting on stage all by their lonesome.

Streaming is struggling
I listen to Pandora about 42.5 hours per week (8.5 hours at work x 5 days per week), and, in the back of my mind, I’ve always wondered: why would anyone pay for this site when the free version is totally awesome?

Apparently it’s a fair question. According to NPR, streaming websites are hurting for money, and desperately. Spotify has never made money; Pandora, the other biggest streaming site, has had the occasional profitable quarter but then goes right back into the red.

Maybe this will be the trend that finally gets us paying for streaming – when every music site goes bankrupt, the gasp of horror from society will finally cause us to cough up the money. That, or YouTube will basically take over the world.

Find your (vinyl) roots
This might seem obvious, considering the blog, but it’s also an important trend. While more and more people are streaming their music, more and more are simultaneously purchasing vinyl as well. Streaming is great for the workplace and downloading music is great for IPods, but when you’re sitting down and listening to music instead of using it as background noise, vinyl is becoming the way to go (again).

In the words of one musician I spoke with recently: “A great way to get your band out there is to put some songs on vinyl and go sell it to record stores. They’ll buy it without even listening – that’s how high the demand for vinyl is right now.”

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