Kelly Scott Madison

Can advertising save rock and roll?



It’s no secret that the music industry is struggling, so what can advertisers do to help?

When an album sells more than 500,000 copies, it is said to have gone “gold.” Beyonce’s Lemonade and Drake’s Views are two examples of albums that went gold in 2016. In the early years of the modern music industry, out of which this term was born, creating a hit album meant making a whole lot of money… it really meant gold.  Now sure, Beyonce still makes a nice return from her success, but how much money a musician like her can earn from record sales has changed drastically in the current era. In fact, the music industry has been in a devastating free fall for more than 15 years.

The Recording Industry Association of America reported that in 2015 the U.S. music industry generated more than $7 billion in revenue. That is no small sum, except when compared to the $14 billion generated in 1999. Nevertheless, there are still albums being heard by millions, but the term “gold” seems undeniably tarnished. The digital music revolution is killing the traditional music industry, just like digital news is killing print media. What digital should provide is the opportunity for more people to listen to more music more often—an increase in consumption. Instead, the entire media industry, music included, devalued their products by offering so much for free when the move to digital initially began. Consumers have gotten used to that reality very quickly. Now, it seems most people refuse to pay for digital media, even if digital is a better version. The most promising solution, in both the music industry and the media industry at large, is utilizing advertisers.

The digital music issue can be summed up in terms of “elasticity,” or responsiveness to change in price. There is no...

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