Music industry

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The traditional music industry, whose wealth and status are centered around the distribution and sale of physical copies of recorded works created by third parties (artists) under contract, has long had a history of exploiting the artists whose works it sells.

On top of that, in an age where physical means of distribution are rapidly being superceded by less costly and more effective digitial distribution, the traditional music industry has clung to business models designed around those physical means of distribution, and has doggedly persisted in attempting to mold (by whacking and banging with blunt, non-musical instruments) those new distribution channels into the shapes with which it is familiar, and has engaged in consumer-hostile practices to maintain its position rather than adapting to make the best use of the new tools that are increasingly cheap and available.

Related Pages


Radio promotion is an example of a Power Structure. Radio station owners are given incentive to choose the playlists, rather than allow DJs to pick music solely on merit, because this gives the station greater ability to negotiate with record labels for paybacks. (See, for example: Smash Hits; as recently as August, 2005, Clear Channel radio station "The River" was mentioning such perks in their campaign to attract new advertising representatives.)



Filed Links

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  • 2005-08-10 Smash Hits by Fiona Morgan: "Will the latest payola scandal shake up the radio and music industries?"
  • written by musicians:
    • 2000-06-14 Courtney Love does the math: the classic article by Courtney Love [W], lead singer of Hole and widow of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, detailing how the music industry gets away with legalized indentured servitude while raking in profits (apparently a transcription of a speech Love gave in New York at the Digital Hollywood online entertainment conference)
    • The Problem With Music by Steve Albini [W]: how bands are screwed or destroyed by the labels


  • 2007-09-07 Seller Beware "A few months ago, Universal Music Group filed suit in federal court against California resident Troy Augusto, who makes a living selling used CDs on eBay. Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Fred von Lohmann explains why the suit threatens a century-old tenet of copyright law known as the First Sale Doctrine."
    • Slapping a label on an item claiming it belongs to you (and then expecting this to hold up in court) is even more presumptuous than EULAs which claim the user has agreed to them merely by opening the disk envelope.
    • Seems to me if they want to prevent the recipient from reselling the item, they need to get a signed agreement – possibly with some kind of penalty for breach of contract – as a precondition of receiving the item. (Of course, they could probably get quite ugly with this, e.g. by requiring radio stations to sign collective agreements that all merch received from them will be subject to contract, and that the station will make their DJs sign similar agreements covering all merch received – but also of course the station and the DJs have the option of simply not accepting free CDs from that record company, in that case.)


  • 2007-10-01 Radiohead Album Price Tag: ‘It’s Up to You’: superstar rock band Radiohead is pre-selling downloads of its new album, In Rainbow, at a price set by the buyer (minimum 1 UK penny). "There is no maximum price, nor any other guidance, setting up what is may be the biggest experiment in digital-era music-industry pricing to date. What are people willing to pay for music? How many will pay full price? How will the average price compare to what a typical record company would likely have charged? Will people pirate it anyway?" The article doesn't make clear whether the downloads use DRM or not.
  • 2007-07-16 RIAA spends thousands to obtain $300 judgment: what I want to know is what portion of these settlements goes to "the artists", who are supposedly the beneficiaries of all this "protective" litigious action? --Woozle 14:42, 16 July 2007 (EDT)
  • 2007-01-31 New York teen sues record industry "'Pirate' boy bites back" by Nick Farrell