So how bad is music sharing? Music sharing in the 21st century is something that anyone can do with a computer and blank CDs. In the past, people had to buy music by going to a music store. Today, with technology advancement, sharing of music is as easy as copy and paste (Kaplan). Free music became very popular in the late nineties and early two thousand. With the help of peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, illegal music copying was affecting record companies’ sales by huge margins. The music industry began to sue P2P applications that supported sharing of illegal audio. Around the same time, many world-renowned artists protested against the use of P2P networks and free sharing (Kaplan).
Even though the music industry was suffering from receding audio sales at the time, blank CD sales had gone up. Furthermore, MP3 players began to flood the market. Record companies like Sony started to manufacture MP3 players that boosted their sales, and as a result many corporations managed to break even and earn profits (Alderman). This showed that businesses wanted to maintain control of the high profit industry. Recording industry claims it is fighting online music to protect artists, but in reality it is fighting online music sharing in order to maintain its control (Janis).Technology has revolutionized the music industry in three major ways. First off, it created avenues for the advent of new business that worked around the larger music industry. It also enabled artists benefit from music royalties and inline sales. Lastly, it transformed the way people obtain music today.
New business models were established to enable companies adapt to the highly volatile music market in a bid to keep making profits (Haring). Companies advanced technology to reach consumers in new ways that were impossible without the Internet therefore accepting that the Internet had transformed the music industry. Enterprises began supporting and pushing Internet service providers to create new filters to bar illegal music sharing (Cross). With the introduction of Internet to wireless devices such as cell phones, laptop and tablets; companies supported the development of Internet radio. This seemingly better alternative would help in cutting back the losses made through CD sales by charging fees and subscriptions. On line services such as Pandora and Stream waves charge for their service and a portion goes to the record companies (Haring).
Internet radio is important because performers are still able to yield an income and companies stay in business. Even though a large amount of illegal sharing still goes on, several legal market places have been created to attract honest consumers. However, it is still ridiculously hard to compete against free music. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) reported in 2009 that about 95 percent of music is downloaded illegally (Online music trading). The record companies may be losing some ground in the music market, but they make up for it with other goods (Haring).
Does free music really affect recording artists in a good way? Unlike record empires, artists have a slightly different reaction to this online sharing. Whereas some artists are of the opinion that free music was not causing harm to them, others are of the contrary school of thought. Some musicians congregated to form Artists Against Piracy (AAP) in a bid to fight illegal copy infringements. However, the AAP has not been able to cause ripples and achieve its goals because it lacks adequate numbers. Vocal members of AAP include Alanis Morissette, Aimee Mann, Christina Aguilera, Blink-182, Sarah McLachlan, and Garth Brooks. Only about 12% of artists completely agree with the statement that file-sharing hurts them (Johnson).
With music sharing being easily accessible, discovering new artists has became way simpler than before. Independent musicians are now flooding the market and new creative styles are beginning to emerge. This means that unsigned artist are able to be heard, regardless of whether record labels rate their music as good or bad. Fans are also able to find music that they really like and new genres are created. The majority of the artists believe that file-sharing helps to promote their work (Tschmuck). Many artists have benefited from the widespread illegal music sharing. Fans are able to collect more and more music from their favorite singers, rappers and DJs. The free promoting of illegal music has in some ways benefited the artists as a result of free exposure (Tschmuck).
The Internet and the computer has transformed the way people obtain music today. In the past anyone who wanted to purchase music had to go to some kind of record store. CDs were the last audio medium to be used before the inventions of the MP3. Conversion of hard copy to simple data has made it easy for music to be copied as many times as required through a personal computer. As such, the Internet has turned a legal function into an illegal one. When peer-to-peer applications began offering free, illegal music, people began to download in their millions. Downloading is now one of the most important functions of any computer (Kaplan).
Major record companies have come to terms with the fact that downloading is not going away. Companies are now using the Internet for their own benefit by adapting to the digital revolution. Some businesses have made downloading music their prime source of income as compared to CD sales and other forms of medium (Bainwol). Even though music labels have revolutionized the way music is made thereby boosting music sales, they still cannot compete with virus free downloads. This unfortunate turn of events has led to the closure of many local music stores as people prefer to get their music on line (Bainwol).
New forms of sales and downloads have also attracted more home artists. Online sites such as Soundcloud.com and Beatport.com now offer distribution services to unsigned artiest. Artists that want to share their music for free can use Sound cloud and those that want to charge for downloaded material can use Beat port (Snyder). With online services like beat port, new artist have became popular due to the free marketing. This means promotion for exceptional musicians who deserve it. Perhaps if illegal music sharing never happened, online services like these may have never been created.
Technology has definitely changed all aspects of our lives and the entertainment industry is no exception. The music industry has had to adapt to technological advancement, especially the advent of computers and the internet. Technology has had both positive and negative impacts in the music business but the positives outnumber the negatives by far. All stakeholders should therefore embrace the use of technology in the music industry and be flexible as they see fit because technology in music is here to stay.
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Haring, Bruce. Beyond the Charts: MP3 and the Digital Music Revolution. Los Angeles:
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