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The music business has experienced a significant transformation throughout the past decade. Are you keeping up with it? Let’s review some of the more noteworthy changes to keep you on track with current trends.

Physical Out, Streaming In

While there’s been a more recent surge of vinyl record sales as a hobby, overall purchases of CDs, albums, and other “physical” music has sharply declined in the last ten years. Streaming music dominates the marketplace. There’s still a market for rare albums and collectibles but unless you specialize in that niche, best to embrace the new direction. If you’ve dedicated real estate to physical music sales in your retail store for example, that space may be better served by merchandising other products. The good news is you don’t have to lose out on music sales altogether. Streaming music sites like Spotify offer affiliate programs, which enable you to generate revenue by directing business from your website to their website. When a purchase is made, you get a commission.

Online Research vs In-store

Whereas a local music store or business served as the resource for instrument and accessories information a decade ago—and often sometimes still does—people have also migrated to online reviews, blogs, and other social media coverage. Today’s music business often needs to have a presence in both physical and online locations. See the opportunity? That’s right, repost content from other sources as well as generate your own original articles, reviews, and product assessments on your website and social media channels. Your original content may get reposted from other sources—and that’s a good thing to drive attention, brand awareness, and potential business your direction.

Virtual Performance

While there’s no substitute for the experience of live music events and recitals, the pandemic forced us to get our music entertainment virtually, fortified by a shift to online engagement, which was already in motion. You don’t need to give up on live events, especially if you host/sponsor them, but you can expand on the benefits and reach by recording such events and posting them online so they can be reviewed and enjoyed by a larger audience. Perhaps you could record solo performances or jam sessions with customers. If your store facilitates music lessons, consider offering online lessons as well. Good instructors will be able to reach a wider audience and that’s good for your business.

Music Stand

Customers like to do business with individuals, stores, and companies that share in their beliefs and/or support worthy causes. While we’re not suggesting you make a political statement and post election posters for your candidate of choice, there’s nothing wrong with using your store to support and promote causes in which you believe. The important thing is to be sincere. Don’t advertise charity support just to garner positive attention. Insincerity often backfires and while positive social media can make a business, the reverse is also true. If you’re not part of any charitable groups or efforts, consider getting involved. Would you like to see music literacy in the inner cities? What about music scholarships for students? If you support other causes like cancer research, think how you could use your business to help that cause—host a music-athon, donate part of your sales proceeds from a specific promotion, etc. The rewards go far beyond the monetary when you take a stand.

The music business is recession proof—but the way in which it is conducted has changed dramatically throughout the past decade and will likely change even more in the next 10 years. By staying in tune with current trends and embracing the future, you’ll be well-positioned to leverage change and build a stronger music business.