The music industry flocked to Midem in Cannes, France in January, and event organizers reported attendance levels of nearly 10,000 according to Digital Music News. That is an impressive crowd, though a critical component of the business was also well represented at the annual NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA, staged the week prior. The National Association of Music Merchandisers, which represents the global instrument industry, pulled a record tally of 84,695 attendees at its 105th event, according to numbers published January 23rd. Both events fit snugly within the umbrella of music, though the represented sectors are being tugged by different market forces. Major labels are being dragged by internet piracy and a migration away from CDs, while instrument manufacturers are booming from an increased appetite for performance and creativity.
The numbers tell an interesting and divergent tale. Recorded music revenues dipped 23 percent between 2000 and 2005, according to figures published by global trade group IFPI. But the numbers are quickly ramping in the other direction within the musical instrument category. According to NAMM, global instruments sales have recently surged to $17 billion, and the percentage of those playing has also jumped. A recent Los Angeles Times article, citing a NAMM-contracted Gallup Poll, noted that the number of instrument players between the ages of 18 to 34 grew from 24% in 1997 to 32% in 2006. That signals a greater interest in jamming and self-expression, though a wave new digital recording and publishing technologies are also propelling the trend. The result is an increasingly democratized process of musical creation and distribution, and a growing class of "do-it-yourself" artists.
Whether this trend continues or not will depend on the nature of the business opportunities available to the DIY crowd. Will music flourish as simply a hobby in the future or will there be new and inspired ways of coming to market with new music and creating experiences and interactions between artists and fans that create value beyond a free MP3.