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.

After music went online services, ie streaming, piracy became which was a significant problem in 2011. Before this, file sharing and illegal downloading had occurred for more than a decade via services like Napster and Limewire.

Then followed Apple Music's digital download transactions via iTunes. Later Spotify, Amazon Music, etc
"...In 2014, streaming made up......10.8% of total ARIA industry revenue of A$ 370.1 million. In 2018 and streaming accounted for 71.4%.....of the industry total A$ 526.1 million..."
Max Mason 2019a

The Internet has allowed music to be cheaper and to be spread wider than ever before. Also, it enables communities of fans to communicate constantly.

More on streaming

It has resulted in record music revenue and changed the business model for the music industry. This is a reversal from around 10 years ago

"...When online distribution of songs (digital piracy coupled with the iTunes era of downloading signal tracks) threatened to crush the industry. But this change in fortunes has created a new set of winners and losers. Subscription and ad-supported streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora and Apple music - which work like digital jukeboxes with unlimited repositories of songs - are the new industry gatekeepers. They contributed the majority of US music sales the first time last year, outpacing the money coming from CDs, vinyl and digital downloads..."
Todd Frankel, 2017

Streaming emphasises individual songs and algorithms that reinforce already popular choices, ie
"...less than 1% of songs represents 86% of the music streamed..."
Todd Frankel, 2017

Initially it was hoped that the digital distribution's 'longtail' would allow any musician to be discovered through the sharing power of the Web. This hasn't happened as it favours the top musicians like Ed Sheeran with around 60 m streams in one day earning him around US$ 400,000.

In 1999, music sales from CDs, vinyl and digital downloads peaked. With the arrival of even better smart phones and tech companies moving into music, streaming started to take-off. In 2016 around 1.2 b. songs were streamed daily in the United States.

"...music fans can choose from a range of streaming services that allow people to listen to songs while not owning the music. The services were a response to the early 2000s explosion in digital music piracy..."
Todd Frankel, 2017

Previously the gatekeepers were radio and record labels;
"...Labels pushed only a limited number of artists. Radio had only so many hours of air time. That limited the amount of music that people were exposed to, making music a relatively scarce commodity..."
Todd Frankel, 2017

This has all changed with streaming, ie your music of choice available 24/7.

A musician's performance on social media has become more important, especially with the abundance of choices that listeners have. Spotify adds around 15,000 new songs every week (2017).

Additionally, musicians are now relying on licensing deals and live shows as they can be dependent on their performance in streaming services.

"...online streaming works like a digital jukebox, with a fraction of the penny paid each time a song is played. The money comes from ads and subscriptions..."
Todd Frankel, 2017a

Some of the biggest players in streaming are YouTube, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora, Apple, etc.

The differences between Spotify and YouTube are
"...on YouTube, users can find music alongside Videos and toy reviews in what is generally a free-for-all of content, while people go to Spotify and the like for a more refined experience. Some audiophiles argue the sound quality on music streaming sites is superior. YouTube pays an estimated $1 per thousand plays on average, while Spotify and Apple music pay a rate closer to $7..."
Todd Frankel, 2017a

Youth are taking over

Technology like AI are disrupting the
"...traditional ways of recording and distributing music have allowed younger people to bypass the involvement of older generations. The producer, the person at the controls in the studio - or the laptop  in the bedroom - it's getting more youthful......whereas once studio skills would require years of training, now they can be picked up quickly..."
Ludovic Hunter-Tilney 2019

TikTok (the app that enables people to make short musical videos, lip-syncing to favourite songs)
"...launched in China in 2016, it now has 500 million users worldwide, mostly aged under 24......the app's roots can be traced back to karaoke, another interactive technology that originated in Asia. But...... interactivity runs deeper....... transformed the relationship between performer and audience. The act of creating memes and personal videos on favourite songs highlights the performative aspects of being a fan. Just as streaming has disrupted traditional notions about owning music, so TikTok raises the question of who songs belong to: the original performer or the meme makers..."
Ludovic Hunter-Tilney 2019

There is a clash between exploitation and self-expression in "fandom" (replaced fan clubs)
"...fans are the targets of ruthless merchandise sales, yet they are also responsible for creative activities such as fan fiction or cosplay (costume role play)..."
Ludovic Hunter-Tilney 2019

AI and machine learning

Powerful computers are surveying and analysing our listening habits; others write music.

We are becoming more accepting of music recommended by algorithms and playlists.



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