Music and technology have always had an especially close relationship. Changes in technology have always been reflected in the industry for better or worse, whether they are resulting in new instruments, new recording methods, new distribution mediums, or new ways of promoting artists. In recent years, it is fair to say that technology has even managed to completely flip the business structure of the music industry – as we wrote about here – meaning that live music now accounts for much of artists’ revenues and livelihoods. Since Silicon Valley realised the income potential of streaming services, that area has seen the most attention from innovators, but with the growing importance of live music, that is where the most exciting potential is for technology to have a positive impact on music.
Streaming has arguably ‘devalued’ the record and allows anyone to seek out new music. But the flip side is that, seeing live music is now the best way for the fan to show their support for their favourite artists, as well as now the most effective way of showing that they are culturally ‘switched on’ – there’s nothing cooler than an Instagram from a live show. Add to that the economic imperative artists have to perform, and we come to realise that as much as we might want to bemoan some of the structural changes that disruptive technology has caused in music, the resilience of and reliance on live music is undeniably tantalising. The stage is a do-or-die proving ground for artists – and now for technology too.
Services like ShowMango come to mind, redirecting streaming companies’ subscription model to live music whereby customers pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to a month’s worth of gigs. Similarly, start ups like Eventbox – an app which lists music line-ups around town geographically and allow the user to hear snippet previews of the artists on offer – are also presenting new ways to get local venues filled out. These are just some intriguing examples of the potential technology has to get people out to gigs, rather than just to spend more time wallowing on their devices.
If you’re like me, the thought that it takes new apps to get people to go see live music will send a strange shiver up your spine. It’s a significant consolation, though, that these developments represent a chance for the tech-world to help artists in an area that is now crucial for their survival. Even more exciting, perhaps, is the prospect of our beloved music halls, clubs, and arenas returning the battleground for music, which can ultimately only be beneficial to the fan… if they just remember to look up from their phones.