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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or have been in a coma since 1998, it’s been impossible to have missed the digital revolution in the music industry. Discovering and listening to new music is easier than ever before, but with this accessibility comes new challenges for the artists themselves. With the continued rise of technology, bands are being forced to look for new ways to use the web to their advantage, and some of them are finding innovative methods to do it.

The first of these is making the most of the options available to them. This means ensuring that their catalogs are available on all the major streaming platforms. While streaming only makes a significant amount of money for larger artists, it’s also a vital source of potential income that can’t be ignored for smaller bands. One of the best aspects of streaming is that it helps promote the entire catalog, as opposed to just one album or song. And, thanks to the popularity of curated playlists, if a smaller band can get a song included on one of the service’s official lists it can quickly lead to a major windfall. That’s not to mention the popularity of streaming services as a music discovery tool for many listeners, making them a great way for a band to get noticed.

But there’s much more to the internet than just streaming. Some artists have taken the embrace of digital music to a new extreme by promoting themselves through their inclusion in a number of online games. Popular online casinos around the world feature slots based on legendary bands and other pop culture icons with currently touring artists like Guns N’ Roses and homages to rock stars from the past like Jimi Hendrix being incredibly popular. The games feature the bands themselves and some of their most popular tunes for a fun and novel way to connect with both old and new fans. The licensing fees from these games can go a long way while providing a much needed additional revenue stream, making this something that smaller acts will likely also start to pursue in the future.

While the industry is drastically changing, it’s important to look at the positives that have come from this. In 2016 record labels actually saw their revenues rise and vinyl sales reached a 25-year high. While streaming has definitely become one of the most ubiquitous methods of consumption, the power of the internet as a marketing tool for physical sales can’t be understated. There are few better ways to connect with fans than through the web, especially on social media, and artists are arguably closer to their fan-bases than ever before. This ability to appeal directly to consumers has become an important tool for bands to drive sales and awareness of new music.

In some ways, we’re back in the Wild West when it comes to music. Thankfully, musicians have always been a wily and savvy bunch, and that’s probably why they’re the ones finding some of the smartest ways to adapt to the digital landscape. It’s clear that the artists have been quick to jump on board, and we can only hope the rest of the industry will wise up before it’s too late.

Guest Editorial: Artists are Learning to Make the Most of the Era of Digital Music

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