Negative effects of Technology on the Music Industry

Piracy is a common problem that artists encounter. Without the appropriate legislation and regulations, technology can create loopholes with which people breach patent laws. Moreau reveals how “MP3 technology poses a significant threat to the way both artists and their labels do business” (18). The MP3 technology enables people to make copies of music with a sound that almost resembles the original copy in terms of perfection. It permits people to duplicate music labels in an effort to offer them for mass consumption in an internet environment. These pirated materials erode patent laws (Varian 122).

The internet has now completely altered the music industry. Before its wide application in the music industry, almost every person gained access to the web. The music industry relied heavily on CDs and cassettes to share music. People could not copy music in these devices. However, with the emergence of MP3 technology, copying and storage of CDs became possible. Technology developments have made hardcopy music insignificant. One can easily borrow a CD from a friend, copy it to a personal computer, and return it to the original owner. With the soft copy of the CD, it becomes possible to share it with virtually everybody around the globe via the internet and social media platforms.

Amid the positive effects of the internet technology, it has also shaped the music industry negatively. Increased internet speeds have made it possible for artists to stream their music for global consumers. However, consumers can illegally share pirated music using software such as Limewire and Napster. In fact, piracy amounts to a challenge that musicians consider impossible for the police or governments to address (Moreau 26).

The emergence of social media networking applications has taken the negative effects of technology on music industry a notch higher. For example, with MySpace, people can follow artists to gain information on their latest release. With YouTube, people do not depend on TV stations or DVD players to watch any music. With the internet connection, Pandora and Spotify (streaming services) permit people to use the internet to watch music anywhere across the globe. When they are utilized properly, these technologies are important in helping to reach mass consumers. However, the abuse of the copyright of artists in a technological world is commonplace.

The introduction of iTunes store for music in 2003 marked a period of immense changes in the music industry. Sales dropped by 4.7billion US dollars from 2003 to 2013 (Moreau 25). Upon adjusting to accommodate inflation, revenues from music sales halved, following the introduction of iTunes stores. Surprisingly, within the time in which iTunes has been in the market, more music has been sold than before. This finding implies that amid the increased music distribution due to iTunes technology, the music industry has experienced a reduction of revenues. Therefore, iTunes technology increases music distribution rate while at the same time reducing the amount of earnings for the artists.

In 2014, more than 1.4billion online music copies were pushed through the market in digital form, thereby decreasing the sales of CDs by 700% (CNN Money par.5). In the same year, an excess of 75% of the total music sales was executed through digital platforms. Even after the emergence of Google and Amazon as distributers of digital music, iTunes accounted for 63% of the total distributed digital music in 2014 (CNN Money par.7). This observation suggests that the decreasing music revenue due to the application of digital technology in music industry can be attributed to the introduction of iTunes. 

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