The Music Industry’s Latest Paradigm Shift

701 words | 3 page(s)

The current age of the music industry is steeped in evolving from vinyl and CD recordings to an all-digital format. Gone are the days of waiting for a new album or CD to drop and then rushing to one’s favorite record store to pick it up in its entirety. In this technological digital era in music, now music fans can download the latest releases by their favorite artists instantaneously to their laptop, desktop, or other mobile electronic devices. Songs can be downloaded individually or as an entire project and is priced according to what is downloaded.

According to Chaney (2012), consumers have had a big hand in determining how goods and services are distributed. Consumer behavior has impacted how the music industry has changed. This is borne of a fast-paced society and the convenience of instance access. The music industry has had no choice but to follow suit in order to remain competitive. With the inception of the Internet, consumer access to any and all things provides the instant access that we have grown accustomed to.

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At the advent of music going to an all-digital format, Napster rose to fame by giving music fans their first taste of instant access and providing music for streaming and downloading illegally on its website via peer-to-peer file sharing. They were followed by competitive sites Limewire and others who offered file sharing of music free of charge to download. It was a music fan’s dream but quickly was curtailed due to being in violation of music copyright laws. Artists got their first glimpse at how rapidly the music industry had changed, their loss of control over their content, and a sobering revelation at how music fans valued their work.

Video channels, YouTube and Vimeo help promote artist music as well as establish a platform for unsigned music artists to create, distribute, and promote their own music. Many unsigned artists who may never get a major record deal have opted for self-promotion through social media and have encountered huge fan bases and their own notoriety as a result, giving mainstream artists a real run for their money.

Independent music artists can now upload their content to iTunes, CD Baby, and the like for sale to fans and new followers. This growing niche of the music industry has given record companies pause to sit up and take notice and has provided opportunities for recording studios and music distribution centers to change the way they do business. YouTube has also been instrumental in the discovery of mega-stars such as Justin Bieber who began uploading videos of himself singing acapella covers and got the attention of R&B superstar, Usher.

According to Tepper & Hargittai (2009), digital music has changed the way artists produce and deliver their content, but has opened up endless possibilities as to how music fans access and find it. Websites like Spotify, iHeart Radio, Pandora, TuneIn, and a whole host of others provide listeners with the ability to stream, commercial-free (for a fee) their favorite content. Consumers can build personal playlists by entering a favorite artist name, genre, or song and be streaming their favorite music momentarily. They do not necessarily have to download their favorite tunes any longer, but can stream music, search for their favorite songs, and play as often as they like without ever having to spend a dime.

To that end, the digital music age has reached the mature phase of the process and has finally put the minds of artists and record companies at ease now that they have become acclimated to it. This era in music is the most advanced time in its history, giving artists a wealth of opportunities and endless possibilities. The realization exists that the old ways of creating and distributing music are long gone, thus artists are embracing the myriad of ways in which music can be produced.

  • Chaney, Damien. “The Music Industry in the Digital Age: Consumer Participation in Value Creation.” International Journal of Arts Management 15.1 (2012): 42,52,69. ProQuest. Web. 5 Oct. 2015.
  • Richter, Felix. “Infographic: U.S. Streaming Revenues Surpassed CD Sales in 2014.” Statista Infographics. 23 Mar. 2015. Web. 6 Oct. 2015.
  • Tepper, Steven J., & Hargittai, E. “Pathways to music exploration in a digital age.” Poetics 37.3 (2009): 227-249. Science Direct. Web. 5 Oct. 2015.

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