Senior Researcher Ron Knox explains how consolidation in the music industry, like the pandemic, has been disastrous for artists. The monopolization of three chokepoints in the distribution of music — record labels, streaming, and live venues — is making it impossible for the broad “middle class” of artists to reach listeners.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has shattered the music industry. By taking away live music for what will likely be 18 months or more, Covid has ended the revenue stream that animated an entire music ecosystem. This is particularly true for independent artists with few other means of making a living in today’s industry. Musicians lost two-thirds of their typical income in 2020. Live music revenue fell 85 percent.
The Save Our Stages bill, passed in December as part of the second round of pandemic relief, has offered a lifeline. But even after it’s again safe to see a live gig, the underlying driver of the music industry’s deep inequity will persist.
For decades, corporate concentration and the rise of streaming music platforms has shifted power to tech giants, and to a conglomerate that, through the staggering failures of US monopoly regulation, has come to dominate terrestrial and satellite radio, concert promotion, ticketing, artist management, and venue ownership, essentially every revenue-generating slice of the industry.”
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