Iv) Music

Start of recordings

- wax cylinders (1880s)

- 78rpm recording discs (1910s)

- plastic records (singles, eg 7 inch, LP; then EP - extended play, containing 2 or 3 tracks on each side) (after WW2)

- radio stations playing music, eg disc-jockeys

Pre-digitalisation (dominated by global organisations such as Philips, Sony, His Master's Voice, RCA, etc but an increasing number of "small" independent producers, such as Virgin Records - 1960s)

- expensive recording studios and large stores for selling records

- mass production technology of plastic records (vinyl records)

- cassette players/recorders (encouraged home taping from the radio and/or original LP)

Digitalisation (new entrants, such as Sony, JVC, PolyGram, Atari, Apple, etc) (since 1980s)

- computer software allowing mixing albums and soundtracks

- compact disc (CD) with disc pressing technology, and later DVD

- videos (VHD)

- video games, starting with Pac-Man and developing into the home computer games

- Internet (digital downloading of music, social networking, such as YouTube, MySpace, iTunes, etc. Music is recorded on lap tops and then put on the Internet so that it can be downloaded. For example, in 2007 Radiohead released their album (In Rainbows) digitally for whatever customers wanted pay. They sold 3 million physical and digital copies.)

For several decades, musicians had to be linked with major record labels to have any chance of succeeding in selling records to the public. With the Internet, this has all changed.

- Apple's iPod (combining technologies and communications - mobile phone, etc with music recording/playing)

Furthermore, technology changes around the Internet and digitalisation has increased the number of titles exponentially as anyone can produce and market an album. It has changed the power relationship between the artists and record firms, with the artists more in control of their destiny. It has increased the marketing options from digital-only-singles to ring tones, streaming, online sites, social networking, exclusive downloads from the digital portals and mobile phone wallpapers, etc.

Until recently, around 50% of total music revenue money came from record sales. But this fell to 33% by 2009 and continues to fall; on the other hand, touring, merchandising and other income has increased significantly.

"...Music will be a giveaway to build a fan base to support your touring and your merchandise..."

Dave Weiner as quoted by James Eyers, 2010


Since the 19th-century, most recording technology has had a life of 30 years; this has changed drastically in recent years, with technology moving significantly faster. Each development has resulted in different ways of making music, marketing, purchasing and acquiring it. In general,

- music has become more accessible

- greater variety is possible

- the artist has acquired more power than the recording organisations.

It has been claimed (Andrew White et al, 2012) that piracy in the form of peer-to-peer file sharing, followed by Apple's iPod and iTunes have halved the size of the record industry in the past decade.


Streaming is changing the music industry. The music industry has a one-stop-shop streaming service, Spotify, ie for a monthly subscription ($12) able to listen to almost any artist. The TV and movie industries do not have a similar one-stop-shop streaming service; you need to subscribe to Netflix is the currently the nearest to a one-stop-shop movie streaming service.

In the USA, streaming music like Spotify, Rhapsody,etc and radio services like SiriusXM, Pandora, etc have exceeded CD sales and digital downloads are the largest source of revenue in the music industry (2014). Revenues from USA subscription streaming was around $US 2 b. in 2014 ( 28% increase on 2013and equivalent to 27% of total music industry revenues)
Downloads have been the US music industry's largest source of digital revenue for a decade but peaked in 2012; in 2014 download revenue fell by around 9% to US $ 2.6 b.

"...record companies are now digital music firms, earning more than two thirds of their revenue from a variety of digital formats..."

Cary Sherman as quoted by Matthew Garrahan, 2015

The growth of streaming has created a new power struggle in the music industry between the creators of music and the companies which distribute it. Artists are objecting to the free service which is used by distributors as a marketing tool to attract paying users.


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