Term Paper: Future of the Latin American

Pages: 17 (4690 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Music  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] As Lawrence Grossberg (1997) says, it is important to look more closely into how identity as it is attached to a place, or homeland is constructed, how notions of belonging, identity, and experience are linked together. Thus, we have to ask questions such as: how do individuals and groups place themselves in this world culturally? How does culture speak to the social realities these people find themselves in? How do cultural activities help them to create new social worlds and social relations? Moreover, a close look at the micro level of the individual and the individual experience will help us rethink the outdated notion of identity as given, coherent, and stable. According to Sarup (1996) rather than being an inherent quality of a person, identity now often arises through interaction with others, with institutions, and with practices. Thus a shared musical experience not only can find success by it's identification with a common interest held with a number of individuals, but music now also can be seen, and needs to be understood as a vehicle, or 'place' in and of itself, which can give groups of individuals a common experience to bind them together where nothing else previously existed. According to Simonett (2000) when we inquire into identity, we have to "focus on the per formative and preformative aspects of identity, the process of identity-construction through identification and affiliation, the sense of belonging, and the meanings of home, place, roots, and tradition. Because music is intimately intertwined with all these topics, it provides a privileged site from which to examine the politics of identity."

For example, in the June 27, 1999, New York Times article "A Country Now Ready to Listen," journalist Peter Watrous describes Latin American nations as "places that only a few years ago saw the world through virtually pre-Columbian eyes." He then hypothesizes that "Americans [are] longing for music more rooted in a certain place and produced more honestly," hinting at the latent Anglo attraction to the "primitivistic Other" that also permeates the narrative of Jennifer Lopez's video for the single "Waiting for Tonight," whose action takes place in a jungle setting, as well as Ricky Martin's performance at the February 2000 Grammys, during which, surrounded by "African tribal drummers," he danced and sang from within a ring of fire. These two performances gave viewers a new experience of the Latin beat. They say a mixture of pride in Latin heritage, as well as the image of north American success. By blending the two, these recordings reached beyond the physical boundaries of each country, and joined together the best elements of each. The resulting Latino flavored, Americanized performance gave north Americans a new experience of music, and Latino's an attachment to their home culture.

In other words, according to Cepeda (2000) the popular media recognizes that part of Martin's (and Lopez, Marc Anthony, and Aguilera's) appeal to mainstream audiences is their appearance of "whiteness."

With the power of electronic data gathering, Latin American recording artists and labels can now begin to address the combined desires, likes, and cultural affectations which the north, central, and south American countries share. By approaching the market with this understanding of the construction of a postmodern social order, artists can identify the segments of the culture which they wish to communicate to. The recording labels can also expect to find a financial reward for committing time and resources to bands which have an appeal to a smaller segment. If the deliver system to bring music to the masses one song at a time is developed, record labels and artists can find a wider market for their songs even though they will be serving a smaller segment of the population.

The Future of the Latin American Recording Industry

Reconstructing the Industry

In order to reconstruct the Latin American recording industry, it will take the combined efforts of the recording labels and the government. The recording labels need to develop a new model for content delivery, and the government will have to address the problem of music piracy. Since the problem facing the industry is on both the supply and demand side of the economic equation, the solution must also address both sides also The pirates who are flooding the supply with bootleg copies of Cd's must be reigned in. And the music industry must develop a delivery and music storage system which is a profitable replacement of the free Peer to Peer file sharing services.

Music Delivery

The future of the recording industry must change significantly from the model it has used for the past 3 decades. Since the introduction of popular music, records, cassettes, and CD's have been mass produced, and delivered to the marketplace on the same basis as any other product. Economy of scale production methods made it possible for products to be shipped via traditional delivery channels to retailers. The retail outlet was the only deliver channel which was established to reach the widest majority of the marketplace. This is no longer an accurate description of the marketplace.

According to Anderman, (2003) ignoring this problem will be likely more costly than developing a new business model to take advantage of it. The music industry is currently in a free fall, and the very foundation on which the business is structured -- selling music to stores -- is eroding globally at an astonishing pace. Sales of recorded music have fallen about 16% over the last two years. By contrast, since 2001, blank CD's sales have overtaken prerecorded CD's with no signs of giving up ground. In 2002, sales of blank CDs jumped another 40%.

Evidence of the need for change is also widely evident, Best Buy shuttered 160 of its Musicland shops in the last year, HMV closed its flagship New York City store in 2002, both of Tower Records' Back Bay locations have recently shut down, and Wherehouse Entertainment also filed for bankruptcy in 2002. Label losses continue to pile up as Sony's music group lost $132 million during the first six months of its 2002 fiscal year, EMI cut 1,800 positions worldwide, and the Warner Music Group reduced its staff by 1,000 over the past two years. Each of the five major record companies has seriously slashed its artist rosters. (Anderman, 2003) In order for music producers to escape a complete implosion, they must develop a significant reinvention of their music delivery channels via the internet through digital file storage.

Considerable time has been spent discussing the current changes in the delivery systems. The section of the paper will suggest a means by which the recording industry, in Latin America, and globally can change to once again become profitable, and eliminate the profit drain currently being caused by illegal P2P file sharing systems.

In north America, Napster has been deemed to be an illegal infringement of copyright law. As a result, Napster has become a fee-based subscription service. Sony, Apple, other recording and computer hardware companies have also recently launched subscription-based file sharing services

In April 2003, Apple Computer launched iTunes, a service that allows Macintosh users to browse a catalog of over 200,000 songs and download them for 99 cents each. The advantage of iTunes over free " peer-to-peer " services is the guarantee of virus free files, and a guarantee that the company is operating inside the legal framework of copyright laws. Apply has licenses with all the major record labels, and individual licenses with over 200 individual bands. (apple.com, online) The model must be working, because in addition to Apple, Seattle-based RealNetworks and Santa Clara, California-based Roxio are vying for a share in this emerging market. (Garland, 2003) These file sharing systems recognize that the technologies which created high quality music is now changing the way music is being delivered, stored, and enjoyed. Technology is directly impacting the delivery of music through the four following trends:

1. The price of digital storage continues to fall, and nanotechnology will make it too cheap to measure in the coming decades. It will be cheaper to store data, and thus cheaper to store music.

2. Devices capable of high-speed wireless Internet will be available for poor, middle-class, and wealthy consumers alike. Not long ago, cell phones were so expensive that only businesses could afford to use them. As they proliferated and became more affordable, cell phones became a status symbol of the urban professional. Now, the phones are given away for free, and people in all socioeconomic classes own them 3. Digital recording equipment is increasing in sophistication and dropping in price, allowing professional-level recording for low cost. The Roland Corporation, for example, produces a hard-disk recorder for $2,000 that gives musicians clear sound and the power to edit their projects into professional products. Twenty years ago, equipment of this quality was ten times more expensive and more difficult to work with.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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