[LINK] More on the Music Industry

Hans W. Groenewegen hans.groenewegen@sims.monash.edu.au
Mon, 24 Feb 2003 12:30:07 +1100

One of the many things that annoy me about this too frequently repeated
LINK discussion on the music industry is the fact that most contributors
seem to equate "music" with rock and other forms of contemporary (and
generally ephemeral) popular music. There is very little consideration
given to the fact that the music industry has for years been cross
subsidising their serious music output from the income generated by
popular music sales. With the decline in that income, partly due to web
piracy, the amount of money being spent by the recording industry in
commissioning new recordings of serious classical music, for example,
has reduced significantly. Many of the classical CD's that are  coming
on the market are in fact re-issues of recordings made many decades ago.
Although the sound quality is still good and the recording artists are
often legendary, it does mean that the opportunities for new artists to
make their name and for new - and perhaps slightly more esoteric - works
to be recorded are declining. 

The purpose of copyright is not, as Chris Maltby (quoting Richard
Stallman) said, merely to cover the significant costs
associated with traditional methods of physical duplication and
delivery. The purpose is to promote creative endeavour which is
obviously much wider than that and not really affected by the changes in
technology. No doubt it is quite possible for some uncouth local rock
band to distribute its latest creation on the Web. But it takes a lot
more resources to make a top quality recording of Berlioz' Requiem or
the complete Beethoven string quartets.


Robin Whittle wrote:
> "The Music Industry" - really the "Western Recorded Music Industry" may
> look from the outside like one thing, but I think it is internally
> fractured in quite a few dimensions.
> Musicians, song-writers, managers, producers, recording studios, record
> companies, music publishers, various copyright collection agencies, TV
> and especially radio are all fractured individually between themselves
> and often in tension or conflict with other sectors.    For instance
> musicians need managers and both need record companies to finance and
> distribute their work.  But record companies, who really know nothing
> about music (otherwise they would be musicians themselves) only go on
> last year's trends and what they think they can get airplay for.   Radio
> wants to play generally familiar music, with a bit of fresh stuff, to
> attract the demographic which spends most money on things which
> advertisers want to sell.  But that is not necessarily the same
> demographic of the younger people who buy most CDs - or who are most
> interested in the fresh musical endeavours which the most artistically
> significant musicians are pursuing.   Radio needs music which supports
> advertising - so long or instrumental pieces are impossible.  Therefore,
> because of the central role radio plays in the discovery of music,
> "popular" music is continually guided into being compatible with the
> increasingly crass and manipulative adverts.
> This is not to mention personal tensions between people who are strongly
> driven artistically or by business building desires.
> Then there is the intense stylistic differences and the fact that one
> person's heavenly song sounds like torture to someone else. (Billy
> Joel's "Piano Man" anyone?)
> The Western recorded music industry goes back a century or so and I
> think that the people at the centre of it, in the big record companies,
> are extraordinarily resistant to accepting what has changed, with both
> CD-Rs and with the Net.   They do not seem to understand how the Net
> gives artists so many new opportunities for facilitating music discovery
> and two-way communication with listeners.   Quite a bit of this makes
> big record companies partially redundant, unless you really need to sell
> tens of thousands of CDs.  But nonetheless, a smart record company would
> develop its own software for websites which are optimised for promoting
> artist - listener discovery and communication.
> My page on this is:
>   http://www.firstpr.com.au/musicmar/
> Two other problems which are harder to solve for Net-based sales of
> music are that many of the customers are too young to have credit card
> accounts, and that the costs and security problems of credit card
> transactions are not suitable for low-value transactions like AUD$1 etc.
> There is a startup hoping to solve this:
>    http://www.peppercoin.com
> This is Professors Silvio Micali and Ronald L. Rivest.  But others, such
> as DigiCash, have failed in this micropayments business.
>      - Robin
> _______________________________________________
> Link mailing list
> Link@mailman.anu.edu.au
> http://mailman.anu.edu.au/mailman/listinfo/link



Hans W. Groenewegen,			
School of Information Management and Systems,				
Faculty of Information Technology,		
Monash University,
Level 7, 26 Sir John Monash Drive,
Caulfield  East.  Victoria  3145.


Tel.:     +61 3 9903 2633
Email:    hans.groenewegen@sims.monash.edu.au