A short history of the music industry: different formats, familiar names but the same old problems

M&C coverIn the past 20 years or so, all sectors of the music industry have been through massive change. Format transitions, company consolidation and greater scrutiny of copyright and licensing have changed the industry beyond all recognition. But have the changes made for industry improvements, and more important, have the main players learned from their mistakes? The recent discovery of the first issues of Music & Copyright has allowed for a unique look at just how much certain things have changed, and how much they haven’t.

The newsletter’s 20-year anniversary came and went in September, but thanks to a long-standing subscriber, copies of the first 24 issues published have been found and make for interesting reading. Despite containing names that have either long since left the music industry or been swallowed up as part of industry consolidation, the headlines for a number of news stories resonate closely with happenings today. Continue reading “A short history of the music industry: different formats, familiar names but the same old problems”

Japanese consumers turning away from mobile music formats in ever greater numbers

Music buyers in Japan are continuing to confound the rest of world, with digital sales falling and physical-format sales rising. Recent figures published by Japanese music trade association the RIAJ show that the once loved mobile music formats are continuing to suffer big drops in sales. Internet sales are growing but nowhere near fast enough to stem Japan’s digital-music collapse. Continue reading “Japanese consumers turning away from mobile music formats in ever greater numbers”

Is now the right time to tinker with HADOPI Mr Hollande?

Political change has come to France and the impact of the switch to a socialist president, following the election of François Hollande earlier this month, could be felt by the music industry. Hollande has begun looking at reforming tough anti-piracy measures despite claims from the music industry that targeting file sharers is beginning to generate increased interest in the legal digital sector. Continue reading “Is now the right time to tinker with HADOPI Mr Hollande?”

Are blue-chip companies unknowingly supporting pirate music sites?

Pirate-music sites offering free music downloads are being indirectly funded by a wide range of blue-chip companies. A survey conducted by Music & Copyright in the UK has found that all of the companies whose advertising appeared on a selection of pirate sites were unaware of the ads’ presence. Should these companies know where their ads are going? Continue reading “Are blue-chip companies unknowingly supporting pirate music sites?”

Music discovery takes center stage as digital-track availability just keeps on rising

The number of digital tracks available to music customers has grown at an incredible rate over the past few years. At launch, Apple’s iTunes offered only 200,000 tracks, and the company says it now has more than 18 million tracks in its database. Users have never had it so good and to help them find the music they want, a number of digital-media companies are building customized high-performance music-discovery engines, seeking to offer the “perfect” version of such a service. Continue reading “Music discovery takes center stage as digital-track availability just keeps on rising”

Why is Spotify playing hard-ball with its free users?

Spotify is reducing the amount of music that free users of the service can stream, capping it at 10 hours per month. This should not come as a surprise. It is simply part of a “get them hooked, then make them pay” strategy Spotify began when it reduced the free service from unlimited to twenty hours listening a week. Continue reading “Why is Spotify playing hard-ball with its free users?”

Amazon stirs the locker-licensing debate

Amazon has rolled out a new service in the US that allows users to store music in a digital locker that can be accessed from any PC or Android-powered mobile device. The latest issue of Music & Copyright takes a look at why the launch has prompted a significant amount of debate over its legality. Amazon claims it needs no license for simple remote storage. Continue reading “Amazon stirs the locker-licensing debate”

Cloud-based music service roundup

In the latest issue of Music & Copyright we included a special focus on cloud-based music services. It’s no secret that cloud technology offers the music industry enormous potential to reignite the digital sector at a time when the a la carte model of downloading is showing signs of age. Licensing issues have hindered rollouts and it would seem that the big players are waiting for a decision in the MP3tunes.com case before staking their claim. Continue reading “Cloud-based music service roundup”

Big differences in Beatles album pricing

With much of the hype surrounding the Beatles’ music being added to iTunes now starting to fade, all attention is turning to chart placings for both single tracks and the albums. Despite Apple winning the race to secure the digital exclusive on the Beatles, CD versions of the albums are likely to see a sales increase on the back of all the free advertising.

Music & Copyright has conducted a quick survey of some of the leading online CD retailers in the UK to see what, if any, pricing differences exist between the digital versions offered by iTunes and the retailers’ CD versions. The results were quite surprising. Continue reading “Big differences in Beatles album pricing”

Fan-funded companies continue to innovate, but is the sector’s bubble about to burst?

Fan-funding models are not receiving the headlines this year that they did in 2009. However, the sector is continuing to produce innovative business models all based on the concept of getting an artist’s followers to finance musical activities. But with the more-high-profile services showing signs of strain, this business model faces a testing time ahead.

The global financial crisis, coupled with pressures from online file sharing, has put more pressure on all recording companies to achieve a higher success rate when it comes to breaking new artists. Although unsigned artists have always found it difficult to attract investment, the current climate has intensified the difficulties associated with persuading a record company to provide financial backing. Still, the fan-funded model of backing an artist or band continues to result in innovative ways of funding music projects. Continue reading “Fan-funded companies continue to innovate, but is the sector’s bubble about to burst?”