The Digital Age in Music: How Advancements in Technology Are Re-Shaping the Industry

Topics: Peer-to-peer, Music industry, File sharing Pages: 9 (3340 words) Published: March 10, 2013
The Digital Age in Music: How Advancements in Technology are Re-shaping the Industry Michael Martin
Monmouth University

The ever-changing landscape of music distribution, due to constant advancements in technology, is sometimes hard to keep up with for artist, producer, and consumer alike. New editions of textbooks in Music Business classes are issued each year, and changes are made in the industry before the semester is even over. Because of this, it is vital for the industry to not only not only be aware of what is currently going happening, but also be able to foresee the direction that the music business is heading in. In this aspect, it seems that we are at a turning point where consumers and artists are taking advantage of new technologies to reshape the industry, and developers are being left behind. Record companies are struggling to maintain their stranglehold on the music industry, most notably through utilizing age-old copyright policies. This paper explores the different avenues bands are taking to make a profit, the effects of digital music distribution on the industry, and proposes the question of whether record companies will win the war against file-sharing, use it to their advantage, or be left in the dust.

In this new age of constant technological advancement - an era that may very well be looked back on as a 'digital renaissance' of sorts - it seems that everything in our world is changing. One of the greatest vessels and products of this change is our media. Not only is the media itself different, but the way we perceive it, interact with it, and distribute it is now almost completely different due to modern technology. But while digital media seems to be evolving faster in some areas than we can even keep up with, there are other areas that are sorely lagging behind. Focusing on the media of music, I'm referring mainly to copyrights. Because of ancient copyright laws that are stubbornly clung onto by record executives to ensure their stay in power, digital distribution is being cracked down upon and the advancement of a global P2P networking system is being thwarted.

While it is necessary for these distributions to be kept track of so that artists can collect the royalties necessary to maintain their work (and then some), it seems that the artists are coping just fine in the meantime through other emerging technologies such as new advertising mediums and ringtone downloads. Legal paid digital distribution is also emerging and becoming more popular, which may be the new direction that the industry is heading in. It appears that record executives have the biggest problem with adapting to this brave new world, and only time will tell how they cope with the drastically transformed landscape. This paper looks at research that has been done on all the factors that are affecting the industry today, and what this means for both the players and the played.

General Statement of Problem
I'm taking a "Business of Music" class right now, and the majority of the class has been spent learning of the major and critical role that record labels play in the industry. Another main aspect of the course is copyright laws, and how the preservation of intellectual property is vital to maintaining order in the business. When asked about P2P networks and digital downloading, though, my professor is stumped. We also talk about a technology called Sound Scan, which keeps track of every album that is sold in stores and sends the information to a supercomputer that tells record companies how many albums their artists have sold, and royalties are dished out accordingly. But when asked how this will be kept track of in the digital age, when millions of consumers download their music as files on unmediated networks, he doesn't know what to say. When I asked him how copyright laws work in terms of remixes and samples, especially in hip-hop where tracks are borrowed and...
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