Corporate Convergence and It’s Effect on the Music Industry
Since its creation and early days, the music industry, recording methods and channels of distribution have changed many times over. What began as a simple invention has blossomed in time to be a billion dollar industry spanning multiple channels of media to include television, movies and theater as well. With incidences such as corporate convergence and the more recent processes of digital distribution, the industry itself has had to evolve to keep up with the times. To some, Thomas Edison is considered to be the first recording artist. His phonograph was first device that could actually reproduce the recorded sound. Additionally, Edison’s workshop has been stated to be one of the most successful illustrations of media convergence to date, with the invention of the phonograph, together with wireless and cameras, as well as the power to run them (Olive, 2012). Technology quickly advanced, improvements were made to the phonograph and before long the gramophone was invented, the record album was born, and history being made.
By the late 1930’s and the early 1940’s, home phonograph systems were very common. With the entertainment and music industry gaining popularity, those that could afford the systems enjoyed listening to the recorded music in their homes. During the mid 1940’s, the emergence of the radio/phonograph set with automatic record changers brought about an early example of converged technology and showed that radio and the recording industry could survive together.
After WWII, the recording methods changed and 78 sized records were phased out as 45’s and LP’s became more popular. Recording onto these types of records were the popular method through the 1970’s, with the technology of the turntable advancing to be a very precise instrument. The sound they delivered were great for the time, but the fragility of the record
album, and its ability to scratch fairly easily and ruin the sound, brought about yet another change in the recording industry.
The next changeover came along with the appearance of the eight-track and cassette tapes. The ability to record on theses smaller magnetic tapes helped to make music more portable. Instead of having only the radio to listen to while driving, the option of being able to install an eight track or cassette player appealed to consumers, allowing them to carry their favorite recorded songs with them to listen to as they please. Additionally, home stereo equipment evolved again and sound systems with multiple playback features were created, showing another example of technological convergence. As time passed, recording methods changed again and the CD became the more popular mode of distribution. Throughout those years, although the methods of recording, distribution and play back changed with technology, the recording industry itself was coming into being a big money maker for businesses and individuals alike. Much like in today’s world, many earlier musicians usually started out by playing in local clubs and hot spots. They would take on jobs and gigs to gain both experience and exposure, hoping to get noticed and have the next big hit. For some the big break would come when asked to open up for a larger more recognized artist or band; that was a sure fire way to be seen by record labels who could potentially sign them on and promote their music.
There were many small record labels that started out during the early days of radio such as Stax records (originally Satellite Records), located in Memphis, as well as Motown Records in Detroit, each recording different genres of music. Countless others emerged throughout the country as well as abroad, including the Beatle’s own “Apple Records, with which they recorded and produced their own albums. These smaller labels partnered with the larger record companies for their distribution channels. By early 1950’s the five major...
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