When I was a kid, every magazine had that little postcard-weight page with a hundred record albums listed, each with a tiny box in front of its title. “Get 12 albums for just a penny,” it said at the top. I’d check off 12 albums on that Columbia House Records ad, daydreaming about how great it would be to own all this music. (My mother, wise woman that she was, absolutely forbid me from actually sending in the postcards.)
Now, Columbia House is on their way out. And for good reason. Selling music in the digital age is a completely different animal than it was back when I was a kid.
My goddaughter Carolyn does not own albums. She owns a computer, and it has a connection to YouTube. When she wants to listen to songs, she looks them up and plays the music video. The music is just there for her. Why would she spend money on it?
It’s proving to be a challenge for the music industry. Meaghan Trainor had to cancel shows because of her vocal chords hemorrhaging. Hemorrhaging! Good grief! And she’s not the only one. More artists are ending up with vocal nodules and other voice problems, because they’re out on the road touring a lot more. I’m seeing my favorite a capella group Home Free for a third time in a year next month because they are on their third tour in 18 months.
Because that’s where the money is. Album sales just aren’t driving the industry anymore.
But exhausting our favorite singers can’t be the final answer of how the music industry survives. I’ll be interested to see what innovation artists will come up with, now that the big labels and distributors are no longer the answer.