Blog 8 – New Technology and the Music Industry

This blog examines some positive and negative impacts of technological advancements (digitalisation) and that revolutionised music production, distribution and consumption and has caused a great shift and changes within the music industry (MI). The Berkman Center for Internet and Society, et al (2011) argues that over the last decade there has been a state of significant flux as music has shifted online reshaping the MI in so many ways. This has had a direct impact on the recording industry. Previously mentioned in my previous blogs, the MI business model with copyright and intellectual property laws that are not abreast with technological advancements in some areas. My heart aches due to the imbalance and unfair practices especially towards the creators (musicians and songwriters) who create jobs for the myriad of industries.

The gatekeepers such as Artists and Repertoire (A&R) within record labels indexed the old Tin Pan Alley practice (Wall, 2013) have nowadays earned themselves a name amongst musician as ‘attitude and rejection’.

The Internet allows micro-independent who are entrepreneurs to works remotely from home premises alleviating expenses (Rutter, 2016; Strachan, 2011). Embracing these emerging technologies afforded via platforms such a Bandcamp and Soundcloud means musicians are taking things into their own hands. Through these discourses of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) and Do-It-Together (DIT) practices to professionally produce and distribute their own music reaching a wider audience without the need of gatekeepers whom in my opinion stifle creativity. These platforms act as proxies for popularity and a measure of the market potential (Maturo, 2015). Allowing easy registering with PRS and PPL for royalties. Rutter adds that technology has provided a vehicle to make music on the move (2016, p247). However “…the reality is that no artist has been able to launch a major career by using the Internet on their own” (Passman, 2009, p.86).

This also saw the inception of micro-Independent record companies popularly known as ‘indies’ or ‘garage labels’. Also on the downside piracy is rampant as customers have little or no incentive to buy albums, and consumers would prefer to “steal” music as increasingly illegal peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing networks present unfair practices (Panay, 2011,p 59, cited in The Berkman center for Internet and society, et al 2011). In addition, the so-called innovative disruptive technologies through streaming devices  such as Spotify,  iTunes, Tidal, YouTube Red to name a few generate content on demand anywhere, anytime, and anyhow my question is does the customer really own the music? And is it safe in the so-called ‘cloud’, as intangible objects.

References

Maturo, N. (2015). Music as immaterial labour: Soundcloud and the changing working conditions of independent musicians. Masters of Arts in Communication Studies. McGill University.

Passman, D. (2009). All you need to know about the music business. 1st ed. New York: Free Press.

Rethinking Music: A briefing book. (2011). 1st ed. Boston, Massachusetts: The Berkman Center for Internet & Society At Harvard University.

Rutter, P. (2016). The music industry handbook. 2nd ed. Abingdon: Routledge.

Strachan, R. (2011). Micro-independent record labels in the UK: discourse, DIY cultural production and the music industry. European Journal of cultural studies, 10(2), pp.245-265.

Wall, T. (2013). Studying Popular Music as Culture. 2nd ed. London: Sage.

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One thought on “Blog 8 – New Technology and the Music Industry

  1. I think when talking about technological change in the music industries, we have to prioritise and set out the context in which we’re speaking first and foremost as otherwise the clearness of the argument becomes blurred. Whilst I quite agree with your exploration of the ways in which technology has mobilised music into a more accessible medium in terms of creating it, I feel as if your argument would benefit far more from exploring and extending the cultivation and rise of streaming which you touch upon very briefly at the end. Streaming, now so more than ever, is directly impacting the ways in which music is produced, distributed, and consumed, and whilst I admit it is easy to skim over it when exploring impacts of technological advancement (considering the depth of advancements over the last century within the music industry), I feel as if the focus is slightly more historical than it should, or could be. I recommend reading the work of Rogers (2013) and Morris & Powers (2015) who essentially look further into streaming’s impact so far on music in the digital age. Otherwise, I think this is a solid start to what could be an incredibly interesting in-depth look at the positives and negatives of the technological advancements. Furthermore, revisiting McLuhan’s tetrad may have benefited you here to better outline the positive and negative impacts.

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