These charts explain the simple reason why I left the music industry. “Here’s that chart again, only this time adjusted for inflation”. Ok. Maybe “Left” is a but exaggerating, but allow me to explain.

album unit sales vs dollars us music industry inflation

In The Prime
From a young age, all I could think about was having my own label and making Good music! (Pun intended)
And then, not too long ago I was the leader of one of the fastest growing (‘urban’ / Caribbean) DJ groups in the Netherlands.
We went from being nobodies to headlining our first party in less than 3 months. Within a year we were playing at one of the newest and biggest parties in the Netherlands at the time… Urban Flavors! We had our own steadily growing online radio show with over 60 weekly listeners. We featured international guests, DJs, artists, dancers, you name it!
We were playing in neighboring international countries such as Antwerp and just after I left we got our first gig in Germany! We headlined parties in St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba. We opened for international artists and helped to break local artists. The list of accolades can go on and on, but more on that later. In short, we were very successful (in a short time) and I was well on my way to realizing my dream!

And most importantly, we were having fun! For us, we were doing it just to do our part in helping to spread the (Caribbean) culture and idea of 1 Love!

At the time I was busy doing a Major in Media & Entertainment management. And part of the reason we were able to grow so fast was because I was able to apply the things I was learning at school straight to the group/organization!

Yet, in the height and prime of all this, and halfway through my study, I walked away! Thankfully the team is strong and they are still very active today!
But “why did he do it?!” Why did I break this momentum, walk away from my brainchild and give up on my dream?!

The Reason
First of all, I believe that you shouldn’t just be “Taking” from or participating in an industry, but you should seek to contribute to it as well. Add or bring something to the industry that other colleagues can use and which helps to enhance the industry.
(For example my contribution to the Marketing and Communications industry is the Love Q!)

So, halfway through my study I realized for sure that the industry as we have come to know it, was dying! Especially after reading and looking at graphs like these!
I then decided to broaden my views and focus on marketing, advertising, entrepreneurship and business courses as much as possible.
This in order to understand business and the business world as much as possible! And with aspirations to “healing” and “fixing” the industry!


The Irony
I have seen/and still see a lot of (aspiring) artists just trying to jump into the industry and assuming to make money from their music and milking the industry! (And of course there are some that do it for the love too).
This is all fine and well, but if we all keep doing that,… Then pretty soon, with the current business models, there will be no more money at all for no one! See the graphs!

us music industry album sales per capita

Allow me to add, No, even better yet, let me ask You,… When last have You bought/paid for any piece of music,… Compared to the last time that you consumed music for free (YouTube, free download, ‘got it from a friend’ etc)?

I guesstimate that 80%, if so little, literally do not pay for music! Not to mention the same aspiring artist that expects to make money from the industry.
Ironic isn’t it?! What’s more; music sales are plummeting while music consumption is at an all-time high! Irony!

The (de)Motivation
So back then, after a bit of research about the industry, I realized and had to face the harsh reality of these figures. It was really discouraging to accept that you are operating in a dying industry!

Even more, its very embarrassing to know that there is not much we can do about it as yet.

And, its sort of embarrassing to know that we have to depend on techies to come and save out industry! (No offense, because I consider myself to be a big techy as well)
But the point is, when we look at innovation within the music industry over the past decade, it came from outside the music industry. See Napster, see iPods, see music streaming services, music subscriptions, etc.
And of course technology makes things easier, but don’t miss my point!

With that said, I must commend the Jay-z’s and the Will-I-Ams and the Wu-Tang Clans for experimenting and testing out new business ideas and business models in order to pump life back into the industry.
And definitely much thanks to Spotify and Google Music, Deezer etc, for rethinking and creating one some options.

The encouragement to you
So, with that said, the same reason I left is the same reason I can’t wait to get back! The industry needs a Savior! And until we find the answer, I will be exploring, searching, researching and waiting on that bright star to lead me there.

And in the mean time, I would encourage every aspiring artists and musician and producer to not just try to jump in to make money, but rethink the idea of how people consume music and contribute something that we all can use.
And for short term, encourage friends to sign up for a music streaming service, donate to music projects, come out to shows, share artist links and info on social Media, etc etc.


Got the pictures courtesy of: the