The Recording Academy, the organization that brings us the Grammy awards, has spent the last two years on a project to "create a dialogue between music makers and music fans to help shape an exciting digital music future".  This is some amazing work and the academy should be recognized for their grass roots efforts to connect the fans and the artists.  Here are some excerpts from their report.

In the 50 years since commercial rock ‘n’ roll was born, everything about music has changed, from the way it’s made to what it sounds like to how it’s marketed and sold. The most dramatic difference, however, has perhaps come in the last decade. Spurred by the introduction of the Internet, the act of discovering music and, subsequently, sharing it, have evolved in ways artists, record companies and listeners never imagined. Gone are the days of walking over to a friend’s house with a stack of vinyl long-playing records under your arm—a deeply personal, one-on-one experience that, often, ended in generating a future sale. Today, connecting with music happens in an instant, involves an incomprehensible number of people, and a method that’s nearly impossible to trace.

Like many times before in its history, the music industry is at a crossroads. Faced with declining album sales and a public that lives—but doesn’t always buy—online, the traditional brick and mortar model, which has weathered its share of technological innovations (from 8-tracks to tapes to compact discs), can no longer function as it was designed; at least not for profit. At the same time, consumers are battling music providers with issues centered on perception (the perceived greed of record companies and the perceived wealth of popular artists) and one undeniable reality: that acquiring music is easy and, depending on where you are getting it, free. While the conscience may debate the act of illegal downloading, is it enough to steer the listener towards a legitimate purchase or is a legal threat necessary? If you are willing to pay, will you be able to own the music or will copy-protection software ostensibly mean you’re renting it?

These are some of the many questions that this report tackles. It was compiled by a 12-member panel of 18 to 24-year-old music fans from every walk of life that have spent the better part of two years collecting viewpoints and opinions through interviews and roundtable discussions with artists, producers, songwriters, executives and peers. The What’s The Download® Music Survival Guide is an unedited look at today’s state of music and a genuine attempt to decipher what’s working, what’s not, and where we go from here.

7 Music Survival Tips – (from the Guide)

#1: Educate to Eradicate Piracy
“Unaware of the large number of people who collaborate to make a record, many consumers have turned to illegal file sharing as a response to the high price of music, believing that they are not hurting all of the ‘rich’ musicians. They simply do not understand the ramifications of their actions.”

#2: Make Music Retail Therapy
“Sometimes when you go to a record store, you bump into a record. You bump into people that may hip you up to records. It’s a whole other experience. And we need that journey. It’s important that as artists we take time to dig, to see the roots of where everything is coming from so that we can offer it to the fans, and they all can offer it to the next generation.”

#3: Declare a Music/Tech Truce
“Simply put, the industry does not make it easy for consumers to purchase and use digital music online legally, while piracy delivers what companies hold back. Digital music is a vital force in the industry and technology needs to be properly embraced to provide ease of use to consumers.”

#4: Commit to Artist Development
“If the music industry wants to win back the financial loyalty of fans lost to illegal means of obtaining music, the major labels should work with artists to cultivate their talent, rather than casting an artist aside after a commercially unsuccessful release.”

#5: Embrace New Music Avenues
“If the music industry hopes to survive, it must embrace the new face of musical community to reach out to potentially dedicated fans. Labels as well as artists should take the time to interact online with their fans in the interest of developing an artist-fan relationship that will entice fans to support artists monetarily as well.”

#6: Offer What Piracy Doesn’t
“So how can companies drive illegal file sharers to legal Web sites? This is something many are struggling to figure out, and there is not one clear answer or solution. However, if legitimate Web sites and online companies want to continue to grow, they must offer what piracy cannot.”

#7: Make Music a Priority
“More people are discovering more new music–and a greater variety of music–than ever before. There are tremendous challenges facing traditional music businesses, but for artists and fans this is an incredibly exciting time. One day, we will look back on this period in music history as a kind of Internet adolescence—a confusing, sometimes awkward transition that in the end leaves us stronger, smarter…and a little less innocent.”

Get a copy of the complete guide here and check out their very informative site "Whats the Download"

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