Essay on Music Business - Technological Impact

Submitted By Fatoumata22
Words: 2577
Pages: 11


The music industry was born about a century ago when technological innovations gave way to capturing, storing and replaying sound. Ever since, the music industry has adapted to ensure they remained sustainable, but often did so with resentment. The sound evolved from mono to hi- fidelity stereo to Dolby surround sound, replay devices evolved from gramophones to large, in-house stereo systems to compact and portable audio devices, and storage media technologies evolved from vinyl to audiocassettes to CDs, mini-discs and finally became what is known today as the digital format. During these transitions, the industry players either quickly adapted to the changes or simply vanished from the scene.

In this essay we will examine three ground-breaking inventions which significantly changed the music industry. We will look at the invention of the phonograph, the Radio and finally we will look at the internet and the ripple effect it created and almost single handily dismantled the record labels foundation pushed previous inventions in the dark corners of the industry and raised legal and financial issues threatening the stability of artist musicians and record labels alike. Phonograph

The phonograph, an earlier version of the gramophone, was invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison, an American inventor and a scientist. It had direct as well as indirect impacts on the music industry for consumers, musicians and the industry as a whole.

Amongst the many impacts the phonograph had, one that might not be obvious would include the length of the song. Most popular song at the time was much longer than your average pop songs found on the charts. Some of the most famous pieces of music were forty five minutes long. If a song were to last only 3 minutes, it would have been considered to be extremely brief.
When the phonograph was invented, the limited amount of recording space on the disc forced the songs to be much shorter. As a result, to facilitate business, recording companies required artists to produce songs less than 5 minutes so it could fit on one side of the record (Shanks, 2006).
We can easlily assume that as this was the form of music that was widely distributed, it had a great influence on the way musicians continued to structure their songs making this the new trend for pop songs which carried on to be the set structure for songs today. Although there are other reasons for explaining under-5-minute-song trend such as the appeal a short song has to the public due to it being catchy and simple, the limits that the phonograph’s recording was able to provide was significant.

Like going to the cinema, listening to music was all about the experience at a time where the phonograph was not yet invented. However, when music was able to be reproduced without the need for musicians to be physically there, the experience could be delivered directly to the audience and penetrate peoples live at an astonishing rate. Music became all about being “catchy” and the factors for its success were down to people being able to remember it and sing to it.
This had an impact on modern composition which understood the importance of repetition within a song which is clearly identifiable in today’s top 10 hits in the charts.

Along with other sound production machine, the phonograph started a new way of archiving historical data. For the world of music, this new invention gave the opportunity to musicians to go beyond the page to document their work. They were now able to record their music and redistribute the performance to people’s homes without being physically there. The invention of the phonograph had a positive and negative impact on the lives of musicians. Being able to record their music and get the public to hear it without the need for them to be physically present was beneficial for many as it made it easier to gain revenue from the record sales (Shanks, 2006).
Another impact was how the distribution