While music is deemed universal language to human beings, questions regarding cultural forms’ relativity and human rights’ universality are becoming urgent due to technological changes and developments. Music is a form of a cultural product that embodies a voice as the dignity of human beings, as well as makes claims regarding social justice. Moreover, music is deemed to be a register of domination and power just like its silencing. Usually, the particular cultural contents, which offer music its meaning might not translate to international areas; therefore, highlighting the universality dilemma (Marshall 77-8).
In the last twenty years, digital technologies have basically changed the means through which audiovisual media are created, received and circulated. Since audiovisual and music content has been offered in several formats by diverse media forms, there has been a complicated convergence of sonic and visual media, consumption and production, as well as of grassroots and corporate artistic endeavors. On the other hand, audiences, promoters and creators have responded in diverse ways to the new opportunities and challenges. Meanwhile, as the adaptive strategies of media industries shift the experience and expectation of the users of the audiovisual music content, participatory use is continuously testing and stretching the copyright legal frameworks (Marshall 80-83).
The internet has hugely influenced the revenue and the workings of the music industry. The development of the internet has presented the music industry with challenges and opportunities, compelling it to adapt and change. Such changes have had negative and positive impacts on the music industry affecting all people in the business. On the contrary, the internet has predisposed the music industry through making piracy simple, developing online radio, establishing innovative customer advantages, as well as creating company disadvantages (Marshall 87).
The internet has immensely increased the issues of piracy within the music industry, which has created the biggest effect. There is no other industry that has been affected more by the emergency of the internet than the media or entertainment industry. Even though services and products that are entertainment-related have gradually progressed to take advantage of the digital technology, as well as respond better to the shifting consumer tastes, the structure of the industry has remained comparatively unchanged. This can be attributed to many factors, which are common to the majority of media sectors inclusive of conventionally high content creation costs; the role of licensing rights and content ownership; the inevitability of a near-ubiquitous network of distribution in the proper market, and the distribution outlets’ scarcity (Jenkins 37).
The internet has resulted in the music industry being characterized by extremely competitive upstream market for content creators; a tight vertically incorporated oligopoly in production, distribution and ownership, as well as scarcity in available media and retail outlets. The internet has continued to challenge such an entrenched structure through shifting the relationship between the supplier and the distributor to an open structure from a hieratically layered structure. As a result, conventional roles of distribution, manufacturing and retail are being basically redefined and re-questioned. Such transformations are linked intrinsically to the Internet’s open nature, as well as its capability to serve as a uniform platform that is able to sustain any amount of competing media and application (Marshall 90). The Internet has significantly affected the music industry by basically restructuring costs, lowering barriers of entry and considerably increasing the nature and number of downstream outlets. Meanwhile, it offers upstream costs with bigger control over content production, ownership and distribution. Thereby, it presents record labels having the threat of being bypassed by the upstream and downstream markets (Pine and James 17-8).
There exist no doubt that the music industry has experienced a considerable transformation since 2000 due to the technological developments and changes. Record companies have partly lost hold of the power that once permitted them to maintain the prices of music as well as their profits high. The fundamental changes in distribution, production and promotion transform the economic climate and create new challenges, business opportunities, and redistributed profits (Jenkins 51). Through advanced recording and producing software, which are now available widely and considerably inexpensive, artists have the ability to develop music of high quality from anywhere. The Internet has made it possible for musicians to rise to fame without getting into a professional studio or having a record label. Most importantly, all the costs, which are associated with promotion and distribution, have been removed by the open and free communication of the Internet, in addition to the increase of the social media (Jenkins 67).
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There are several insights we gain by studying music as a cultural product and technological change. The reaction of conventional music industry players has been to endeavor imposing the present processes and rules to the new medium in order to leverage their power in the market. Such players have adopted a mutual strategy of applying legal challenges to attempt to erect barriers towards the use and availability of emerging technologies. In the meantime, they propose technologies that can deal with the potential threats in the legal systems to their control of the power in the market. A positive aspect is that it becomes possible to examine the evolution and the changing structure of the music industry by taking into consideration the major factors of the music industry as the shift from physical distribution to virtual distribution. Other benefits comprise the reduction of transaction costs between different cultural industry segments, the proliferation of competing, new channels of distribution formats, the emergency of new intermediary and downstream players, and the flattening of the hierarchical structure in the music industry (Pine and James 25).