Technology and The Music Industry: An Insight Into Effects on Production, Distribution and Marketing

Kenneth McArthur Student Number: 64916 BMus In Commercial Music Performance NQF Level 4

Lecturer: Harry Leckstein 1st June 2012 Word Count: 2687 words (excluding referencing)

It has affected everything from the way we communicate with each other to the way every day humans express themselves. Today almost every person on earth has access to unlimited amounts of music with MP3 players and the internet. Before the creation of recording technology all music heard had to be performed live and the only way anyone could hear music was if it came directly from the instruments creating it. the way its made and how it affects the world as a whole One of the most obvious ways technology has affected music and the world we live in is that it has given us the ability to save it and listen to it repeatedly. And technology has and continues to affect the music we listen to in a very big way. The shift has caused not only changes in the amount of physical space needed in order for people to record music (today almost anyone can set up an entire virtual studio with just an interface and a mac) but has also changed the way music is edited and distributed to the public. . In recent times we have seen the huge change from analogue recording methods to digital. The technology that is used to record the music we listen to has changed vastly from what was first used almost a hundred years ago. But if it were not for the ability to record music it would not be able to be shared or spread anywhere. 2007) Here the author will attempt to study some of the characteristics of the evolution of technology as well as examples of how they affect the music we listen to. One of the things almost all humans can relate to is music. software-based methods of recording. Everything from the instruments that create the music to the way the music is shared from person to person is affected by the ongoing trends of technology (Bhattacharjee et al.Technology is one of the few things that have managed to integrate themselves into every aspect of our lives. The very creation of music recording technology forever changed the way songs were written and listened to (Anthony Seeger 2007).

Today musicians are afforded the luxury of being able to not only do multiple takes of anything at no cost but are also able to save good takes. Heating and maintenance became issues which often cost early studios a large amount of time and money. tubes and valves was replaced with much more compact circuit boards and the costs of maintaining expensive machinery gradually vanished. Everything from the space needed to house loads of desks.Early analogue methods of recording were expensive to maintain and to obtain. Although this theory may hold some water. layering them onto one another in order to make seemingly perfect arrangements and songs. The magnetic frequencies of the equipment used also affected the sound of recordings. Although electronic. there are also positive and creative sides to recent technological changes. The rise of digital recording saw almost all of the old problems of analogue solved. and many early effects such as tape saturation were direct results of the electric atmosphere in which the songs were recorded (Robjohn 2010). edited to any length and using almost any sound imaginable (Cocchini 2007). releasing songs that may be well produced but have little creative flair and are less willing to deviate from the norm. the invention of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) has truly opened up a range of possibilities for the creation of . The coming of technology has introduced many new concepts to the world of composition and performance. How has this affected the way music is made? And what does that mean to the ever-changing trends of the music industry and how does it affect the music people listen to? Some believe that one of the results of this change is that the art of production has encroached upon the creative aspects of creating music (George Cocchini 2007). Just the magnetic tape used to record was expensive and everything relied on moving parts. The reason behind this theory is that because it has become so easy for us to produce and record music with little or no cost we have in a sense thinned out the gene pool of the music industry. synthesized sounds have been popular in music since the 60’s.

As stated by Richard Ingham. every sound one wants to express. In my opinion a true creative nirvana can only be achieved with the balance of these things. a then-visiting professor of jazz at the University of St Andrew “Digital editing technology has had a profound effect on the development of rock and pop music with sampling and ease of repetition” (Richard Ingham 2007) Nowhere is this more evident than in todays modern dance culture where repetition of rhythm and melody is an integral part of how the audience experiences the music they are listening to. Expert analysis on Napster has lead to the notion that the online sampling mechanisms made possible by such sites could lead to an increase in sales . With the creation of the internet comes the ability for people all over the world to connect with one another and share music more easily than ever before. The compression method known as the MP3 has been responsible for one of the most heated debates to be brought forward in recent years: The question of whether MP3 coupled with the rapid file sharing systems of today will be beneficial or hurtful towards the music industry as a whole.music. how would technology affect what the public hear. in detail. But even if we manage to find the best methods possible for capturing our creative exploits. In the authors opinion there has been another task presented with musicians that lies above the debate of whether or not the digital world has affected music in a positive or negative way and that task is for musicians to find their own personal “balance” between the creative effects of being deprived of technology and the effects of using technology to record. Samples have also been used extensively in creating new forms of music and stretching the boundaries of what can be done by instrumental musicians. and how they receive it? No-one can deny that the development of technology has had a profound effect on marketing. All of this is made possible due to another one of technologies great breakthroughs. allowing us to layer and add sounds and audio textures as we see fit. the MP3.

relating P2P servers with sales of music albums (Oberholtzer and Strumpf 2007). As cited by Bhattacharjee recent work analyzed the subject.S. When considering the amount of research that has been done on the topic. Mathews 2000. Mathews and Peers 2000. Boston 2000) illustrates the notion that the current downloading of music is not affecting sales as badly as we may think. end-user piracy. different from for-profit piracy seems to be much more difficult to control. and when considering factors such as the amount of bias the authors of the written work as well as independent studies have against other opinions it’s no wonder that written work all displays conflicting results. In terms of connecting with people the internet has changed everything. Although this this doesn’t dispel the fear that online sharing will hurt the industry and prevent people from being interested in buying music. Oberholtzer and Strumpf (2007. The effects of online piracy have been greatly researched and seemingly proven as well as debated upon.(Fader 2000). even though there are also many studies done by others proving the total opposite. And the vast majority count towards illegal downloading . p1) found that the effects of downloads on sales where “statistically indistinguishable from zero”. Studies have been done that tried to assess the effect of online piracy on the music industry (Stan Liebowitz 2003) The study looks at a 30 year series of sales is U. This along with the idea that because of the ability to download things a decrease in music sales could be because of increased competition for customers time and resources (Godin 1999. leading some to believe that new technological innovations will in the end empower creative individuals (Belsky 2011) which will lead to an increase in private viewings of creative material as well a large amount of revenue being collected because of online sales from places such as iTunes. it does show new possibilities when it comes to sharing the music and branching out to people. record history using .

numbers from the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). Previous actions towards declining album sales because of online piracy resulted in the strengthening of copyright law. 2004) and the conclusion was drawn that the appearance of P2P technologies and internet piracy definitely harmed the industry as it lead to a decrease in album sales (Peitz. The effects of income and the cost of CD’s were omitted (Peitz. . There is also the concept of fibre optic cabling further increasing the amount of bandwidth available to each person making downloading and streaming of music easier than ever before. Waelbroeck. 2002). yet the speed at which the average consumer can download music or any other intellectual property continues to increase (Fleming. Hughes. 2002). lighter and more durable than conventional steel cabling (Freudenrich) fibre optic connections to the household could revolutionize the industry from both a marketing and crowd sourcing point of view. having private phone companies laying fibre optic cables in small town in america as well as it being made available on municipal systems (Erikson 2012) there is no telling what the increased availability of lightning fast internet will do to sales of albums. The argument was that the downturn experienced in music sales could have been contributed to the creation and popularity of P2P (peer to peer) technologies. much faster. Pg 2. The debate will continue as to whether we really are on the verge of an entire industry coming to an end or whether we are about to make a break through into a new era of communication and empowerment of individuals and allow music to reach new heights in sales because of the ease of access to music that that comes along with constant internet access as well as the increasing amounts of bandwidth available to each person. Waelbroeck. With many communities experiencing a great demand for the product. This illustrates a trend for music to become more readily available to people in the spaces of their homes to download or access music at any given time (Pg 55. 2004). Pg 54. Pg 2.

an idea that strives to make advertising products more intimate and relevant to their target market. not only doe the advert stand little chance against the massive wash of information bombarding the consumer every day.So. service or event by merely asking them to be interested in it. but once it fails to grab the attention of the market it results in a huge waste of money. Pg 1. Marketing techniques rely on adverts to interrupt the consumers usual thought process or daily habits. Godin (Godin 1999) argues that as the average consumer is faced with such an overwhelming amount of adverts and media. 1999) and this has lead to people desperately find new ways to approach their target market in a world where the average humans attention is now held by more thins at once than ever before. it’s no wonder the concept of mass media advertising has not been successful. or permission marketing (Godin 1999) tries to get the consumer to acknowledge the existence of a product. This leads us to what is known as niche marketing. The idea revolves around the notion that in todays chaotic and interruptive environment actually stopping to ask consumers whether or not they’ll be interested in a . Niche marketing. companies and services are finding it more and more difficult to fight for consumer awareness of the product (Godin. if we had to forget of a while the threat of technology upon the music industry and instead focus on the benefits new technological breakthroughs have given the aspiring musician. Because of this. notice the ad and then make the decision of whether or not to buy it. This raises many problems. According to Seth Godin in his 1999 book Permission Marketing (Godin 1999) all advertising has. and focus on the fact that right now anyone can release music as well as easily take steps to learning the skills necessary in order to create decent quality singles as well as demos with no additional cost other than the capital needed to buy equipment and software it becomes apparent that we are standing on the dawn of a new era if interpersonal communication. up until the digital period. been solely interruptive in it’s delivery to the customer.

As you can see the effects of technology upon the music industry. the consumer is more likely to not forget the product because of the feeling of connection with the provider (Godin 2010). such as bands posting digital fliers or posters on their walls for followers to see. This. artwork. access to additional areas of the bands web page etc). how do we still keep the permissive form of advertising from slowly slipping into the millions of screened adverts being ignored by consumers on a day to day basis? Current writing on the topic points to the idea that because the means by which the consumer were contacted where permissive. but up until now the groups have never had people who can lead them in as intimate a way as is possible today. promoters. however this remains cost effective and does not result in the loss of money normally attributed to modern interruptive advertising techniques. With so many .product would stand out and yield an increase in customer interest. record labels and independent musicians have an easy and cost effective way of obtaining their fans details and keeping them up to date with upcoming events as well as any new music being recorded or released. Because it is easy to sign up for and promises an instant reward for doing so. as the individual groups of people looking to connect with one another has always been there. along with the integration or social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter allows for some use of interruptive marketing as well. The idea carries over into the music industry easily. All the fan needs to do is add their name to a mailing list and be promised a reward for it (Free tracks. But once the audience has been sourced. If this notion is true for every day brands of things bought at a grocery store then it rings particularly true for music. Bands can now offer free samples of albums as well as free tracks available for download to their fans and many use this as bait for permission marketing. the music we listen to and the way it is sold to those who wish to listen to it have been vast indeed.

to quote Seth Godin in his seminar ‘The Tribes We Lead’ (Godin 2010) “The Beatles did not invent the teenager.new avenues for obtaining music illegally as well as purchasing it and staying connected with fans and audiences who can really tell at this early stage whether or not the new world of connectivity we are about to be introduced to will make or break the music industry. It is the opinion of the author that provided we are given sufficient laws and ways of monitoring the massive wave of online activity that innovative and creative people will find a way to adapt and grow with a changing industry the way we always have. they just chose to lead them” .

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