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Music Artists and New Ways to Reach FansMultiple Chapters

Pages: 10 (3661 words)  |  Style: APA  |  Sources: 6

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Symbiotic Relationship Between Musicians and Fans

Original Structure of the Recording Industry

Napster and Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

Artist-Fan Communication and Digital Platforms

Evidence

Recent History of the Music Industry and Changes in Revenues

Revenue Sources

Patreon

Artist-Run Subscriptions

Cassette Tapes

The music industries in the digital era are highly complex and continuously evolving. College students who listen to music today, do so by drastically different means than they would have fifteen years ago. The music industries have gone from being the most powerful and influential industries in the world, to changing their operating structure as the result of the creation of peer-to-peer file sharing software. In today's world of social media and instant communication applications, artists now have a platform of interaction and collaboration with fans. Now that many fans are involved with downloading and peer-to-peer file sharing, it is necessary for artists to use new channels to increase their revenue. Social media platforms have completely shifted the industries and have provided new opportunities for revenue creation. Using an analysis of published studies as well as research related to the computer mediated interactions between musicians and their fans, this study will argue that in order for musicians to survive in this new digital environment, they must find innovative means to generate revenues.

Methodology:

When the Internet, and peer-to-peer file-sharing services started to become popular, many people thought that the music industry, among other forms of entertainment, would never survive the industry changes. In the beginning of this trend, the industry did in fact suffer a significant decrease in sales. However, many people did not foresee new opportunities for the internet to be harnessed by artists as well. The internet as allows new ways of distributing and promoting music as well.

The increased usage of social media with the rising popularity of the Internet has been a new factor to consider in the way artist can connect to their fans. Through social media platforms, the Internet has offered many musicians an opportunity to interact with their fans on a more intimate and personal level.

Much of the prior academic literature has largely focused on the impact of illegal fire sharing and consequentially, the resulting diminished revenue streams that have resulted from this trend. The purpose of this study however is to provide insights into the new forms of relationships between musicians and their audiences that can be created through social media. The emerging social media platforms are a vital component for artist to generate revenue.

This research will identify how musicians are currently utilizing social media to promote their online presence. These mediums allow for the engagement with fans on interpersonal levels that was never previously possible. There are many cases that show how the musicians can take full advantage of new promotional techniques to get their voices heard. The research on the subject will consist of primarily a literature review in order to learn more about the nature of the music industry's engagement with social media. The literature indicates that consumers and artists can now interact in new ways that can strengthen these relationships and provide new opportunities for revenue generation.

Literature Review:

Original Structure of the Recording Industry

Patrick Wikstrom's novel, The Music Industry, provides a detailed overview of the original structure of the music industry that developed with the introduction of mass media. For nearly sixty years, the infrastructure of the industry stood as an oligopoly which was essentially dominated by six major record labels. These record labels essentially controlled all distribution and promotion of recorded music. There was considerable consolidation of power for these companies, however the revenues were distributed unevenly often leaving artists disproportionally disadvantaged. In fact, most musician were able make much money from their recordings. As a result, many artists made the majority of their income from concert ticket sales rather than actual recorded music. The distribution system was cited as being economically inefficient due to the fact that distribution through this model contained extra complexity. However, musicians had little choice to sign with one of the major record labels.

Additionally, production, promotion and distribution expenses were often incurred, at least in part, by the artists and then debited to the already small percentage of proceeds they received from their recordings. As a result of these various facets, the major record labels were able to use their oligopoly position and exclusive access to means of distribution, production and marketing to control the industry reaping the majority of the benefits (Wikstrom, 2013).

Napster and Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

William Aspray and Paul Ceruzzi are authors of the novel Internet and the American Business (2008). The book is compiled of separate essays that discuss the commercialization of the Internet and its effect on traditional business. These essays, describing challenges successfully met by some companies and failures to adapt by others, are an attempt to understand the dynamic period of American business history. Tracing the impact of the Internet since 1995 on American business and society, the book describes new business models, new companies and adjustments by established companies, the rise of e-commerce, community building, and discusses such newly created problems such as copyright violations associated with music file-sharing. The book provides a clear examination of the rise of Napster and the software created following its demise.

Many entrepreneurs tried to create Internet-based music companies, but with little success. Record labels also began experimenting into new means of distributing music, and promoting projects, through the Internet. The true impactful development came at the turn of the millennium with the arrival of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing technology, as introduced by Napster. The sharing of files through file transfer protocol (FTP) was one of the Internet's original applications. A very small number of early Internet users employed the application in similar fashion for MP3 files. In June of 1999, Shawn Fanning, an undergraduate student at Northeastern University, launched Napster introducing a new, convenient way to share files. While previous versions of file sharing software piracy methods were relatively easy to trace and stop, the Napster system hosted files from millions of individuals making it difficult take action on any one single individual. Instead of posting an actual MP3 files on their central server, Napster only kept a list of its users' file names and implemented a decentralized system. Using this compiled directory, individuals would search for a song and subsequently download the MP3 file directly from their fellow file sharers and not a centralized database. The fact that files were not actually held on Napster's main server gave the company some legal maneuverability as it would later argue that it could not be held liable for copyright infringement.

The application's usability and interface helped it gain near instant popularity; in just over a year, Napster had a user base of 80 million. By December of 1999, The Recording Industry Association of America, representing the major record labels, filed suit in San Francisco federal court for contributory copyright infringement against Napster. The RIAA was well funded and hired the top legal team that was possible. The presiding Judge Patel dismissed Napster's arguments finding them guilty of contributory copyright infringement with the reigning usage of their platform being piracy. Napster was ordered to shut down and filed for bankruptcy in June of 2002. Although the RIAA was successfully able to shut down Napster, they now faced countless other sites that use the exact same technology. The efforts of the RIAA were initially effective in combating music piracy, but it was simply impossible to eliminate its presence as technology continued to improve (Aspray and Ceruzzi, 2008).

Artist-Fan Communication and Digital Platforms

In his article, Understanding the Digital Music Commodity (2010), Jeremy Morris notes that music has largely shifted from being a physical commodity, being sold on CDs, cassettes, and vinyl- to a digital commodity. This has transformed the marketing and distribution landscape for artists and record labels, and has transformed how the public consumes music. This reality raises a number of questions, specifically, how are artists able to use the Internet to their advantage and persuade fans to purchase their music? Especially when it is easily accessible and in most cases, free? Much of the prior academic work in this field, such as Patrik Wikstrom's The Music Industry focus on the industry's relationship with technology, and perhaps pay insufficient attention to the consumer side. So there is both an interesting body of existing literature and opportunities to build a new body of literature by engaging the consumers of music on their perspective of the transformation that the industries have undergone in the Internet era, primarily the importance of artist-fan relationships.

In a separate article titled Artists As Entrepreneurs, Fans as Workers (2013), Jeremy Morris explores how even established celebrities and artists must maintain and cultivate an online presence. He focuses on the increasing integration of social media into music making and marketing to reflect on the work artists and their fans perform.

Morris places a large emphasis on success and popularity levels by… [END OF PREVIEW]

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