The Future of the Classical Music Industry
The traditional music industry business model was one based
around the control of publishing rights,
maintaining promotional power and controlling distribution.
In this model, the ‘big 5’ recording labels
(EMI, Sony, Universal-Vivendi, Time Warner and
Bertelsmann BMG) had around an 80% share of the global
music market and were indispensible to artists and composers.
With the emergence of the internet came other
methods of music consumption such as online purchases,
person to person file sharing
and illegal downloads which
have had immense repercussions for record labels.
When faced with a new digital landscape,
the fundamental ideals of the recorded music
industry began to change.
I am writing a dissertation which investigates not only how
these changes are affecting business models and
strategy in the music industry as a whole,
but more specifically how the
classical recorded music industry is, and should
be, responding and adapting.
How can a classical music label manage
for the 21st century marketplace?
There are a number of findings which have
arisen from my work so far, many of
which require further exploration.
For example, the power in the industry is moving
towards artists and customers as labels are
losing control over distribution channels
and a more complex and flexible value chain and structure
creates a need for co-creation and
a more consumer centered business model.
What needs to be explored further is to what extend
this applies to classical music, given the different nature of
the music and the unique relationship between composer,
performer, conductor, label etc.
The importance of online forums and engagement
with clients is proven to be highly
important in order to create a consumer
driven environment which the industry is calling for.
I have also found, through academic research
and industry discussion, that in an
attempt to discourage illegal downloads of music,
more stringent legislation on music
copyright and ownership can actually inhibit the
legal sales of music.
In terms of proposed models for the future of
the recorded music industry, two key
models surfaced as possible solutions.
The first was the idea of ‘servitisation’ (the act
of turning a product driven business into a service –
The second was
the idea of offering choice pricing to the consumer
via an online store – a technique
proven to work for one online classical music website.
I am now undertaking primary research in
order to elaborate on and validate these
findings in the context of the classical
music business before applying the results to a
The aim of this research is to understand how classical musicians
engage with and consume classical music online and
offline in order to ultimately
advise a small classical record label on
how they can manage their own business to
thrive in this changing landscape.
Please join in with the research and complete
the survey here
share your thoughts on this many faceted discussion below –
I’ll write a follow up
post to share my findings with the HELLO STAGE community
when the dissertation is