How the digital age has impacted music as an industry and a hobby. Looking into the effects of streaming sites such as Spotify and how the internet has changed how we learn to play instruments. 

It’s finally December! My favourite time of year. “Why?” I hear you ask, well Christmas of course. It’s time to dust off your Christmas decorations and perfect your version of Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas’. If you follow my twitter (@avobreak) you’ll know I’ve already started to celebrate the festivities. I took a trip to Bath Christmas markets. Bath is one of the most beautiful cities I have been to and the festive decorations really got me in the Christmassy spirit. Along with my favourite Christmas songs of course!

My Top 10 Christmas Songs:

  1. Fairytale of New York – The Pogues ft. Kirsty MacColl
  2. It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas – Michael Buble
  3. Stop The Cavalry – Jona Lewis
  4. Driving Home For Christmas – Chris Rea
  5. Happy Xmas (War is Over) – John Lennon
  6. Step into Christmas – Elton John
  7. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Andy Williams
  8. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love
  9. Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End) – The Darkeness
  10. Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! – Frank Sinatra

One thing that really caught my eye (or ear) was the talented array of street performers. From the more common guitars and singers to the unusual trumpets and violins. They created a wonderful atmosphere and made walking around for hours in a busy market enjoyable. As I was walking around I wondered how people learn to play instruments so well. A talent I’ve never been able to master they do with such ease. They could have been more dedicated to the extortionately priced lessons they had as a child or could the internet have something to do with it?

Learning to play an instrument in the digital age

Learning an instrument takes time and dedication. If you go down the old-fashioned route it also costs a lot of money. However, in the digital age the only costs you’ll need to pay are for the instrument itself and the internet. This allows people from poorer backgrounds to express their creativity and talent through music. Giving them something to focus on in times of need.

There are online lessons for every instrument under the sun, which could turn out to be more useful and rewarding than paying for lessons. This is because you have the choice of who’s teaching you and what you are being taught. You have the option to read blogs or watch videos allowing people with different learning styles to master music. It also means you can try out different methods or teachers to find a way of learning that suits you, something you can’t do with in-person lessons. The internet has provided people with the opportunity to advance their knowledge. You can just pick up an instrument and give it a go, without the anxiety of doing something wrong.

Although, online lessons could be damaging a whole career! With more people turning to the internet how will the more traditional music teachers manage to maintain this as a job? There is the opportunity to turn to the internet for help. They could use the internet to promote their service or start teaching online via YouTube or their own website. However, the internet is already saturated with others all wanting to pass on their musical wisdom. Therefore the chance of making a profitable business online now is small.

Streaming sites

The internet has changed more than just how we learn to play instruments though. Streaming sites such as Spotify and Deezer has impacted how we discover and enjoy new and old music. As of June 2018, Spotify had 83 million paying subscribers an increase of 13 million since the start of the year. Personally, I don’t know how I would cope without Spotify. I use it all the time, whether I’m driving or cleaning the house its always on in the background. Spotify constantly updates its playlists so you’ll always know what the UK top 50 is looking like. Spotify also recommends playlists you might enjoy, meaning you can discover new artists and songs that you might have never found.

Streaming sites are amazing for music lovers but might not be so great for the artists. Streaming sites only give a percentage of the earnings to the artists per stream. Not so bad if you’re a huge celebrity like Taylor Swift whose songs are bound to get millions of streams. However, this is disastrous to up and coming artists who are less popular and known and could even result in them giving up their dream of being a musician.

“When people bought albums and even mp3s, there was a glimmer of hope that a musician could earn a decent income on sales. But now musicians are essentially giving away their music in return for pennies” – Kabir Sehgal

My Opinion

Overall, there are pros and cons to how the digital age has affected music as an industry and a hobby. High priced lessons that would only be available to a percentage of the population is no longer the only route to learn and enjoy music as a hobby. Even though music lessons taught via the internet could be responsible for the end of a music teacher’s careers. Streaming sites benefit the people who enjoy listening and discovering new music, which could lead to an undiscovered band or artist gaining fame for what they love doing. However, it is more likely that streaming sites act as the reason artists give up music as a career, due to the low percentage of revenue they receive per stream.