The Internet and Music

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
A cause-effect essay about how the internet has revolutionized the music industry.

Submitted: February 17, 2014

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Submitted: February 17, 2014

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The Internet and Music

We all seem to have a personal device such as an ipod, smartphone, tablet or laptop computer nowadays. Music storage and playback is a key component to these devices; rightfully so, because music is a key component in everyone’s life. With the advent of the internet and the .mp3 file (the most common type of music file) the music industry was revolutionized in more than one way.

With the internet, music executives saw a profit opportunity by utilizing the internet to make music more accessible. For a few years this worked. The industry was making larger revenues with the combination of CD and download sales. However, the internet in a few years would corrupt the money making aspect of music but the creativity of music would flourish.

In only a span of a few years music’s reliance on sales of physical media such as CDs had dropped dramatically. Internet music sharing sites had arrived such as Napster and Limewire. The internet was supposed to boost sales but it had the opposite effect. These sites and other methods made piracy, theft or improper use of copyrighted material, a rampantly growing practice.

Consumers see music differently from other types of goods and services. Many potential music buyers consider it outrageous to spend a small fortune of hundreds of dollars on a small music library for their devices. This view and how easy music theft has become is what has hurt the profitability of music.

Online music piracy since its emergence in 1999 has cost the music industry over 10 billion dollars and over 70,000 jobs in the U.S. each year. Stopping piracy has been a very difficult task. Laws aimed at stopping it have been seen as violations of the Constitution’s First Amendment free speech rights. After a while industry heads decided to search for a new method that could capitalize on consumer’s desire for music but unwillingness to purchase it.

After seeing how effective the internet was for exposure and expansion of music, the industry searched for a compromise to reach consumers that were unwilling to shell out the cash for normal music downloads. This compromise was internet radio; internet radio circumvented the loss of profits from pirates. Internet radio was a win-win scenario. Internet radio services such as Pandora, Spotify, or iHeartRadio, builds a huge library of music from artists and provides these songs to other monthly subscribers or free users. The service will place ads between every couple of songs and pays a small royalty fee to artists when their songs are played. This business model brings in revenue for both the musician, and the radio service, while in turn providing legal, non-pirated music to listeners.

Record labels and music companies were damaged by the piracy epidemic, however the inverse occurred for artists. The internet’s ability to share music so much easier made it simpler and easier for new upcoming artists to garner exposure or be discovered. The infamous teen idol, Justin Bieber is a prime example. A record label discovered him on the internet and now he is one of the biggest names in pop music.

Not only has the internet created superstars, it has also allowed creativity, individuality, and artistry expand and grow. Hopeful musicians have the ability to release and publish their music without the need of a record label to publish it. Services such as iTunes, YouTube, internet radio services, and soundcloud have given amateur musicians chances at releasing their music and sometimes paying them for it.

In the past ten years, the scope and image of the music industry has went through many bumps in the road, attributed mostly to the advent of internet music. Piracy of music is still very prevalent but through trial, error, and experimentation, musicians and record labels have found ways to benefit and be successful despite the prevalence of music theft online.


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