July 6, 2018

Three things we learnt from ‘The Economics Of Music’ author Peter Tschmuck

Former Staff Writer
Three things we learnt from ‘The Economics Of Music’ author Peter Tschmuck
Professor Peter Tschmuck

Professor for Culture Institutions Studies at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Dr Peter Tschmuck has been studying the music business for almost two decades.

For the release of his new book The Economics Of Music, Tschmuck travelled to Australia to talk about how the industry has rapidly shifted since the millennium and the introduction of the internet.

TMN was lucky enough to catch his lecture at Macquarie University this week, here’s what we learnt.

Musicians are more in control than ever

Tschmuck spoke of a shift in the way that recorded music is disseminated.

In the old format (pre-2000) labels were firmly in the middle of the model, licencing recordings from musicians to push out into the public.

Now, with the advent of the internet, the musicians are in the middle of productions instead of labels, leaving the door open for a DIY model that has previously been only a fraction of the industry.

But, this might be a transition period

“At the turn of the century, things like Napster came along and it was the Armageddon of the music industry – now piracy is cosmic background noise.”

This new DIY landscape might end up being a transitional period as Tschmuck described it, “disintermediation followed by reintermediation”.

The ‘old actors’ of the industry (eg. the big three – Warner, Sony, Universal) are being taken over by ‘new actors’ (Apple, Amazon, Google) who, in addition to providing a new way to consume music, use their platforms to sell other products.

“Take Apple for example,” Tschmuck said.

“They sell devices, they only sell music to sell devices.”

The old actors have reinvented themselves

“Since the year 2000, the major labels have had to adapt, so now that are, essentially, service companies.”

It’s no longer acceptable for labels to just put out music, they have to do management, branding and sponsoring in addition to licencing and streaming.

They also have to directly licence with the streaming services, which can spell big money for the labels. A leaked contract between Sony and Spotify in 2011 revealed that the streaming giant had paid Sony US$42.5 million dollars in royalties over three years.

‘The Economics Of Music’ is available now via Agenda Publishing, for more information, click here.