Music Industry - background
 
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The music industry or music business sells compositions, recordings and performances of music. Among the many individuals and organizations that operate within the industry are: the musicians who compose and perform the music; the companies and professionals who create and sell recorded music (e.g., music publishers, producers, studios, engineers, record labels, retail and online music stores, performance rights organizations); those that present live music performances (booking agents, promoters, music venues, road crew); professionals who assist musicians with their music careers (talent managers, business managers, entertainment lawyers); those who broadcast music (satellite and broadcast radio); journalists; educators; musical instrument manufacturers; as well as many others.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the music industry was dominated by the publishers of sheet music. By the middle of the century records had supplanted sheet music as the largest player in the music business: in the commercial world people began speaking of "the recording industry" as a loose synonym of "the music industry". Since 2000, sales of recorded music have dropped off substantially, while live music has increased in importance. Four "major corporate labels" dominate recorded music — Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI Group — each of which consists of many smaller companies and labels serving different regions and markets. The live music industry is dominated by Live Nation, the largest promoter and music venue owner. Live Nation is a former subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications, which is the largest owner of radio stations in the United States. Other important music industry companies include Creative Artists Agency

Until the 18th century, the processes of formal composition and of the printing of music took place for the most part with the support of patronage from aristocracies and churches. In the mid-to-late 18th century, performers and composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart began to seek commercial opportunities to market their music and performances to the general public. After Mozart's death, his wife continued the process of commercialization of his music through an unprecedented series of memorial concerts, selling his manuscripts, and collaborating with her second husband, Georg Nissen, on a biography of Mozart.

In the 19th century publishers dominated the music industry. In the United States, the music industry arose in tandem with the rise of blackface minstrelsy. In the late part of the century the group of music publishers and songwriters which dominated popular music in the United States.

At the dawn of the early 20th century, the recording of sound began to function as a disruptive technology in music markets. The phonograph, invented by Thomas Edison in 1877, and the onset of widespread radio communications, forever changed the way music was heard. Opera houses, concert halls, and clubs continued to produce music and perform live, but the power of radio allowed obscure bands to become popular on a nationwide and sometimes worldwide scale.

The "record industry" eventually replaced the sheet music publishers as the industry's largest force. A multitude of record labels came and went. Some note-worthy labels of the earlier decades include the Columbia Records, Crystalate, Decca Records, Edison Bell, The Gramophone Company, Invicta, Kalliope, Pathé, Victor Talking Machine Company and many others.

Many record companies died out as quickly as they had formed, and by the end of the 1980s, the "Big 6" — EMI, CBS, BMG, PolyGram, WEA and MCA — dominated the industry. Sony bought CBS Records in 1987 and changed its name to Sony Music in 1991. In mid-1998, PolyGram merged into Universal Music Group (formerly MCA), dropping the leaders down to a "Big 5".

Genre-wise, music entrepreneurs expanded their industry models into areas like folk music, in which composition and performance had continued for centuries on an ad hoc self-supporting basis. Forming an independent record label, or "indie" label, continues to be a popular choice for up-and-coming musicians to have their music heard, despite the financial backing associated with major labels.

In the 21st century, consumers spent less money on recorded music than they had in 1990s, in all formats Total revenues for CDs, cassettes and in the world dropped 25% from $38.6 billion in 1999 to $27.5 billion in 2008 according to IFPI. Same revenues in the U.S. dropped from a high of $14.6 billion in 1999 to $10.4 billion in 2008The "Big 5" major record companies became the "Big 4" in 2004 when Sony acquired BMG, and the "Big 3" when EMI was acquired by Universal in 2011.

In the early years of the decade, the record industry took aggressive action against illegal file sharing. In 2001 it succeeded in shutting down Napster (the leading on-line source of digital music), and it has threatened thousands of individuals with legal action. This failed to slow the decline in revenue and proved a public-relations disaster. However, some academic studies have suggested that downloads did not cause the decline. Legal digital downloads became widely available with the debut of the iTunes Store in 2003. The popularity of internet music distribution has increased and in 2009 more than a quarter of all recorded music industry revenues worldwide are now coming from digital channels. However, as The Economist reports, "paid digital downloads grew rapidly, but did not begin to make up for the loss of revenue from CDs." The 2008 British Music Rights survey showed that 80% of people in Britain wanted a legal P2P service, however only half of the respondents thought that the music's creators should be paid. The survey was consistent with the results of earlier research conducted in the United States, upon which the Open Music Model was based. According to Nielson Soundscan, by 2009 CDs accounted for 79 percent of album sales, with 20 percent coming from digital, representing both a 10 percent drop and gain for both formats in 2 years. The turmoil in the recorded music industry changed the twentieth-century balance between artists, record companies, promoters, retail music-stores and the consumer. As of 2010 big-box stores such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy sell more records than music-only stores, which have ceased to function as a player in the industry. Recording artists now rely on live performance and merchandise for the majority of their income, which in turn has made them more dependent on music promoters like Live Nation (which dominates tour promotion and owns a large number of music venues.) In order to benefit from all of an artist's income streams, record companies increasingly rely on the "360 deal", a new business-relationship pioneered by Robbie Williams and EMI in 2007. At the other extreme, record companies can offer a simple manufacturing and distribution deal, which gives a higher percentage to the artist, but does not cover the expense of marketing and promotion. Many newer artists no longer see a record deal as an integral part of their business plan at all. Inexpensive recording hardware and software made it possible to record reasonable quality music in a bedroom and distribute it over the internet to a worldwide audience. This, in turn, caused problems for recording studios, record producers and audio engineers: the Los Angeles Times reports that as many as half of the recording facilities in that city have failed. Changes in the music industry have given consumers access to a wider variety of music than ever before, at a price that gradually approaches zero. However, consumer spending on music-related software and hardware increased dramatically over the last decade, providing a valuable new income-stream for technology companies.      ---- compiled

 

 
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