‘Everything Must Change’ – Part 1

By Errol Michael Henry

“Everything must change: nothing stays the same. Young becomes the old – mysteries do unfold, but that’s the way of time.” I know those lyrics from a song performed by George Benson that I listened to repeatedly when I was a young lad. Life has since taught me that those words are true in many regards and are highly pertinent in respect of the music industry. I took a decade long sabbatical away from the day-today hustle and bustle of the music industry to pursue other interests (I write books, training programmes and other stuff designed to help people live better). During my time away, the industry I knew changed beyond all recognition – and that makes me very happy indeed.

Mournful cries of “we are doomed – we are doomed I tell you: doomed!” were heard in music company offices across the globe. I was not overly worried, because I knew years before that such a day would come and prepared accordingly. Too much money spent in ways that failed to deliver real value (million dollar music videos given to the public for free for instance).

Recording budgets were out of control. Marketing budgets were out of control. Pay packets for some executive at the very top of the music business game had also departed from reality many years previously – something had to change.

The Internet didn’t go away (as the Chairman of one of the largest music companies in the world had assured me it would). No dear folks: the Internet brought new opportunities for people to consume music in ways never previously possible. The Internet also facilitated Globally efficient file sharing (it used to be called stealing, but the geeks re-branded it so now it’s cool). The power of the major music conglomerates was once centered in their ability to exert considerable influence on retail, radio, TV and other outlets, but things began to change.

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Suddenly Joe Public (I’ve never met him but he’s apparently very popular) could play what he wanted, where he wanted – whenever he wanted. Joe Public very much enjoyed the freedom afforded to him through technological and society based evolution. When I was a nipper, file sharing involved mates coming round to my house and listening to my vinyl collection: today they send me mp3’s or links to Sound Cloud (it’s depressing, but people are increasingly too busy to actually commune in person). The world is changing – it must do so because change is a natural (and necessary) part of life.

The arrival of the motorcar spelled the ruination of people who made their living transporting stuff via horses. The railways absolutely stuffed anyone who had built their business moving goods via the canal network. What has the proliferation of mobile phones done to the telegram industry? Long story short, ‘everything must change.’ The music industry led a charmed life for many years. The birth of CD’s enabled already large companies to earn billions of new dollars from products they had already profited from in other formats, and facilitated the more efficient distribution of music to a much broader audience around the world – everything was good. Digital audio also made the perfect duplication of music cheap and very efficient, which at first was much welcomed – but later transpired to be the father of low/zero cost piracy.

Read Part 2 of ‘Everything Must Change’

©2016 Errol Michael Henry/EMH Global Media LTD, All Rights Reserved.