How Has the Internet Changed the Music and Movie Industries

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Music and motion pictures, two of the most popular forms of entertainment today, can easily be traced back hundreds of years ago. Yet a relatively newer form of entertainment (and information) has impacted those long-established industries in as little as a few years: the internet.

Recorded music, technically speaking, can be traced back to April 9th, 1860 with “Au Clair de la Lune” by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville . Though music existed long before this date, it marks the first time music was successfully recorded. “Movies” (rather, plays) as well were a long-enjoyed form of entertainment at the time, and only 28 years later in 1888, “Roundhay Garden Scene” by Louis Le Prince was filmed . Though music and movies have obviously come a long way since then, its purpose has remained steady since its inception: to entertain, convey artistic expression, and generate money.

Eventually with ways to record and distribute these types of mediums, thanks to the inventions of the phonograph in 1877 by Thomas Edison (whose “Mary Had a Little Lamb” was long believed to be the first recording ever) and the motion picture camera and simultaneous invention of the motion picture projector in the 1880s, the future was paved for these forms of entertainment to be distributed to mass audiences . Though the technology used to film movies in that time became quickly outdated, Thomas Edison’s invention was the major recording format for music for over a hundred years after its creation.

The music industry technically started in the late 1800s with the selling of sheet music; that is the papers read by musicians to explain how to play the song. The beginning of the 20th century introduced actual record companies beginning to sell physical music media which dominated sales over sheet music by the end of World War I . Since then, only the types of music and storage mediums have changed (vinyl, cassette, and then compact-disk, though other not-so-popular formats came and went as well). Record companies made large profits, as giving the least amount of money possible to the recording artists themselves was a common practice (so much in fact that Michael Jackson earning around $2 per album sold was considered a large amount of money ). As profitable as vinyl records and cassettes were to sell, record companies nearly forced the compact-disk format onto the public as it was the cheapest of all three to manufacture . Sony (a major record company then and now) had a large hand in developing the compact-disk format in 1979, and released Abba’s “The Visitors” album by 1982. Three years later and the format already boasted million-selling albums. The general public enjoyed the ability to skip tracks easily, the higher audio quality (though debatable by many vinyl enthusiasts) and the overall compact design when compared to their 12” vinyl counterparts. The new format was win-win for both record companies who were able to produce compact-disks cheaper than vinyl records and cassettes, and consumers who wanted a non-degrading medium to enjoy their music on.

Movies followed the trends of music, making large profits for studios willing to distribute motion pictures. Unlike music, however, movies took a while longer to get into the “home buyer” market that the record industry enjoyed for years. Technology didn’t progress quickly enough for movies to be enjoyed privately as music had been able to do. Their profits relied solely on movie ticket sales and in rare instances, merchandising. Luckily for the movie industry this lost market came to an end in the late 1970’s when the relatively new home video player, the VCR (video cassette recorder) became the standard, and virtually only method for watching movies when the consumer desired in their home. While home video players were introduced in the early 1970’s, it took several years and price reductions, not to mention the end of Sony’s rival format, the Betamax, to solidify a widespread home...
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