By Cherie Hu
As I type, technology is transforming the way humans consume, create and distribute music.
While we previously had to pay $12 for a single album, we can now stream millions of songs for free. With cloud services, we can collaborate on a song remotely and seamlessly with a co-writer who lives halfway around the world. Instead of shelling out several hundred dollars to attend a music festival, we can now watch live-streams of this festival from our couches for a much lower price by strapping devices to our eyes (hello, virtual reality).
Yet, this innovation also instigates fear, misinformation and cynicism. Although streaming benefits consumers, it often hurts artists, paying them only single-digit dollars for tens of thousands of plays. Technology may make it easier to compose a song, but then it becomes even more difficult to get discovered and to build a career as a serious musician. Hundreds of entrepreneurs try to build startups tailored for the music industry every year; as few as 4% of them succeed.
And this summer, I get to explore both this innovation with all its sides, dark and bright as a Media & Entertainment Intern at Forbes. I will be chasing my own stories about the companies and entrepreneurs propelling (or hindering) technological innovation in the music business.
Success in the face of disruption is less about providing the right answers. It is more about asking the right questions—and this is where journalism plays a crucial role.
Music-tech articles in particular often suffer from the biases of their authors, supporting vested interests at the expense of more comprehensive, more objective analysis.
The best stories, on the other hand, shift the reader’s focus from an individual data point to a collective point of view. They connect the dots and notice patterns across disparate phenomena to establish a framework not just for understanding, but also for informed decision-making.
Here’s to a summer of pursuing these very stories and of learning how to ask the right questions, from the lens of my passion for the music industry and its constant, exciting technological (r)evolution.