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Music and the fragmentation of the market

Del: 02/03/2007

“The mega hits are followed more and more. This means that there will no longer be mega hits, but small hits redistributed in a market space”. This is how Chris Anderson, manager of “Wired”, summarizes the music market in the course of the last Midem edition, the annual event that catalyzes the music industry world on a global level.

A trend that seems unstoppable, and that, in simple terms, could be explained as follows: “there will no longer be a song that everyone likes, toward which the entire music world orients itself, there will no longer be a superstar song that gets to define the music of a certain year or of a season on a global level”.

So, the song of 2007, will not exist. Instead, dozens, hundreds, thousands of “tracks”of 2007 will exist: one or more at least for each music genre and subgenre.

To summarize it all in one term there is, and it is “fragmentation”. In these last years music has completely transformed its structure, to the point that the “fragmentation” seems to be not only an ongoing phenomenon, but also the true reality of music itself.

Actually, on the one hand, the public that listens to and “consumes” music is more and more differentiated. For instance, those who purchase music today belong to profoundly different demographic segments, this did not happen until not many year ago: the segment of music purchasers between 45 and 60 is in continuous expansion, and it decrees the success of very many chart artists.

On the other hand, the offer itself of music has become overabundant. Whoever has a computer and a connection to the Internet can reach thousands of music files in very little time or listen to web radios from all over the world: a vast choice of music is within very few clicks.

It seems to be the end of an era, and in fact it is: but if you believe that the effect of all this is simply a change in the market, you are wrong. What is actually really changing is the modality of fruition of our own music preferences. Without the megahits spotlight, our same music preferences finally have the possibility to give us the possibility to enjoy the magnum sea music: this way more and more often to the question “what music do you listen to?” the answer will be names of artists we have never heard before.

To all the sceptical individuals, we propose an online experiment: a walk on MySpace. Leave from and go to visit Kiver’s friends: you will find many musicians, each of whom, has put his/her own music on-line. Go from the music of friends to the music of friends of friends, and so on: in less than ten minutes you will have access to some ten pieces, many of which you probably do not know.

Some of you will, of course, turn up their noses before all this: “too superficial, too fast, you don’t listen to music like that…....”. No objection. To quote a famous line of Back to the Future: “Maybe you are not ready for this music yet. But your children will like it”.

                                                            Chiara Santoro


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