How the Music Industry Responded to the Developments in Technology

The contemporary computing technologies have enabled Internet users to download digitized musical pieces of art on their personal computers. In the same line, the advancements of information technologies, as well as the improvement on Internet accessibility have facilitated the distribution of such musical pieces of art to the Web. This is subject to file compression technology referred to as MP3. MP3 technology has facilitated the distribution of music on the Internet (Lam & Tan, 2001). The main arguments in the essay will approach the subject from two directions. Firstly, the essay presents the MP3 phenomenon as one of the challenges that had to be addressed by the music industry. Notably, several past technological developments challenged the industry's status quo in similar ways. The last dimension attempts to situate the MP3 revolution in the general historical, economic and technological industry framework. That is to say, MP3 phenomenon should be explored as part of the cultural transformation produced by the advancements of Internet technologies on a global scale.

Analyzing the Internet and MP3 Phenomenon

The development of technology has deeply influenced the music industry. Arguably, technology has challenged the existing modes of production, law and economic relationships. As a result, technology serves as a tool and vehicle for the change and further transformations in the industry relations. Typically, the music industry responses to revolutionary technologies like MP3. Hence, the idea that technology supports, rather than modifies the existing systems of music creation and distribution (Lam & Tan, 2001). The development of market economy presented new economically driven technological interests and ethics on the value of artwork and the protection of intellectual property right (IPR). In the contemporary society, the concept of property is perceived as an alienated human right that must be protected and activity against it is illegal. Similarly, piratical activities towards intellectual property right are conceived to be criminal in nature. Therefore, digital piracy and other web-based phenomenon should be analyzed by presenting ideological and philosophical backgrounds. Notably, the new computing achievements are not only affecting the music industry, but also other parts of the modern society. Generally, there is consensus that the music industry is affected by digital piracy (Alexander, 2002). Therefore, the fight against digital piracy protects IPR. Digital piracy has generated numerous arguments on issues related to how musical art should be distributed and consumed. It is an illustration of how a technological phenomenon can influence the art creation process and the music industry as a whole. Additionally, MP3 experience is part of the present-day deliberations about the ethnographies of the Internet and the impact of the Internet in modern societies.

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Within the last three decades, the music industry has experienced a myriad of transformations. Phenomenal technologies have transformed almost every aspect of the industry from musical art and the artist to distribution. In the same line with other industries, the music industry has been forced to synchronize with such changes. In reference to MP3s, it is relevant to outline how computers came into play in the music industry. In spite of the fact that PCs were introduced to the market by 1975, consumers did not use computers to listen to music until the early 1990s. In the same context, the Internet became available to the public. Due to the Internet accessibility and the introduction of compression format MPEG (Moving Pictures Expert Group), MP3 gained popularity. MPEG-3, widely known as MP3 was released on November 26, 1996. The development of the MP3 format came with the advent of MP3 player. Unlike CDs or WAV file formats, MP3 music files require less storage and memory making it easy to transfer (Lam & Tan, 2001). Furthermore, MP3 file retains the quality of WAV files. Most importantly, the conversion of music from WAV to MP3 format is inexpensive. Internet users adopted the MP3 technology and stored their favorite music files in MP3 format. In the last two decades, thousands of MP3 websites have developed and the amounts of Internet searches for MP3 files have exploded to unimaginable numbers. It implies that anyone, anywhere around the globe with the Internet access can download free music to his or her PC. With the appropriate devices, for example, CD writers and MP3 players, Internet users can convert digital music files to analogue formats.


With the advent of PCs, Compact Disk (CD), the Internet and MP3 format, the concept of Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing was introduced (Alexander, 2002). According to Alexander (2002), P2P led to the end of traditional record sales. Further, the proliferation of torrent programs and sites facilitated peer-to-peer sharing. Torrents continue to challenge the music industry because they are hard to trace and pinpoint. A torrent downloader gathers parts of music files from different people ('seeders') who share the files, instead of accessing a file from a centralized server or database. Since the advent of P2P file sharing, the sale of physical Compact Disks continues to decline.

As of current writing, the most viable avenue for music sales is bundling music art within the preexisting services. As it stands, the mobile phones and handheld devices have been the most effective at this approach. According to Monitise (2014), there were 1.6 billion PC and 3.2 billion mobile units as of January 2014. Between MP3 players and the Internet, the mobile phone industry has evolved music portability, distribution and sales. In spite of the fact that the mobile phones were introduced in late 80s, their application within the music industry gained popularity within the last decade. From then, music sales through the Internet-enabled devices have increased. This is subject to the fact that the Internet-enabled handheld devices provide music service in two dimensions: MP3 streaming and storage capabilities. Monitise (2014) reported that 45% of PC users, 47% of Mobile users and 48 % of tablet users listened to music streaming service in 2013 on a global scale. In the same report, 58% of PC users, 60% of Mobile users and 63 % of tablet users checked information on music. Such trends suggest that the Internet technologies have a great impact on the music industry in terms of marketing, sales, distribution and consumer access to music.

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From around late 90s to mid-2000s, the music industry was still in denial. In course of time, major industry stakeholders responded to the technological explosion by retailing music online through distributors, clouds and licensing of subscriptions (Wikstr?m, 2013). In addition, artists and labels focused on music placement in commercials, movies and games in order to supplement their revenues. Besides the changes in music distribution and the facilities provided by computers, the Internet and MP3 technology have generated new conditions related to art creation, copyright, distribution and consumption. To recap, it is apparent that the MP3 phenomenon is affecting the entire system, including the music industry, artist, distributors, producers, consumers and their relations. However, as seen from the history, technology will continue to change or challenge these relationships.

Current paper discussed the MP3 evolution by exploring how technological advancements in the last three decades challenged and triggered changes in the musical industry. The context and content of the essay is vital to the understanding of how the industry approaches new technologies and adapts them for its purposes. The author assessed how the music industry has responded to technological developments, precisely the Internet and the MP3 phenomenon. These observable incremental and disruptive technologies need to be analyzed as integral elements of larger economical and historical aspects of the music industry. It implies that the response of the music industry to technological developments can be explored as a dimension of the digitization of culture and the reality of the modern ethnographies of the Internet. In addition, the impact of the contemporary multimedia should be analyzed as vital part of economical organization of the modern societies. Consequently, phenomenon like MP3 evolution and digital piracy must be analyzed from the point of view of crime in the cyber space. MP3 phenomenon is an indication that technological developments will influence the industry. A keen analysis of MP3 phenomenon and the Internet might provide data on the effects of the future technologies on the society as a whole.

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