The evolution of music in the 21st Century has set a precedence for future music, as we know it. Inspired by a fire and passion that revs up the soul; music is the soundtrack to our lives. When we are happy we listen to music, when we are sad we listen to music. Music satisfies and spawns a plethora of emotions that are held bottled up within us; some use music as a vehicle to express deep thoughts and emotions, others use it to just let off steam that is built from the stress that life brings about. Over time people began to realize that the music industry could deem to be quite lucrative and has become to be one of the most profitable industries in the entertainment field. However, with the rise in success comes the rise in problems. The ’90s brought about an upsurge for the use of the super information highway formally known as the Internet. Through the Internet, we have been able to do the unimaginable.
However, the freedom and total access that the Internet provides has created a problem with the recording industry. In the following paper, I will attempt to dissect this issue by stating the facts and then my opinion, and hopefully, you will have a better understanding of the issue at hand. Buyers, traders, and investors gather around as the opening of the market begins. A new hot commodity has people in a frenzy and sales are through the roof. Not even Allen Greenspan could predict the profitability of this new hot product. Although This may sound like a typical day on Wall Street, it’s my pleasure to inform you that it isn’t. This scene is taken from the usual day on college campuses worldwide. College students have been reaping from the advantages of Internet use in the 20th & 21st century. Since most college students like myself run into constant financial problems we have found a revolutionary way to get the favorite music that we love for a fairly reasonable cost or for free.
Prices start at $12
Prices start at $11
Prices start at $10
If you go around any campus in the U.S you will almost be guaranteed to see a flyer posted in residence halls that advertise burnt CDs for less. The theory is why pay for a CD that may cost anywhere from $11.99 to an outlandish $17.99 when I get it minus the fancy packaging for a sensible 5 dollars. I use to say to myself that I would never buy a burnt CD because I had a certain respect for artists and the music that they create. This mind state changed rapidly as I started to see bills pile up and sadly the last thing on my mind was buying a new album. Shawn Fanning is a name that the music industry will not forget anytime soon. He singles handily created a Web Model that worked as a community exchange for the latest and greatest music in almost any genre of music available. Fanning’s initial purpose was to create a program that allowed computer users to swap music files directly off one another’s hard drives, thus avoiding a centralized server loaded with music files.
Who would have thought that this 20-year-old college student would create a multi-million dollar company that is known as the fastest growing website in history? At first, many people didn’t pay attention to Napster because it didn’t show noticeable damage to sales. Yet, as time went on Napster grew and record labels from all over were complaining and about a decrease in record sales due to the virtual buffet of music that Napster provided. Soon after that Lawsuits flew left and right, and Napster was forced to shut down to create a model that allowed the record companies to profit by charging users a one-time access fee. In my opinion, Napster was used as a scapegoat for the loss of sales and the influx of websites that provided people with downloadable music.
I personally feel that websites like Napster do not have a significant affect on music sales. In most cases, it can help the artist get exposure and recognition from a demographic that usually wouldn’t purchase particular artist music. I also feel that a lot of these major record companies are chasing ghosts. They will never be able to track and find every single website that allows the exchange of music on a single server. Napster spawned a number of sites that also have mp3’s available for download, and the newer websites are using better methods of exchange that are not as easy to trace as Shawn Fanning’s web model. Instead of having all files on a single server, they have scattered the files in different directories and subdirectories all over the Internet, which in turn will make it an impossible task for the record companies to point the finger. The only people they can really point the finger at are themselves for letting their greed get the best of them. If the music is available to people on the net then they will continue to download.
The only way this problem can be truly be eradicated is if they stop selling cd burners. I believe that in some way this copyright issue is parallel to the gun control problem we have all over the U.S. The Government spends a lot of money on trying to crack down on black market suppliers and individuals with guns, but as we have seen over the years have failed in their attempts. The only true way to stop this is a problem is to stop manufacturing guns period and put stricter laws on border control so no guns can come to the U.S. In a recent article by Ed McGlothlin he spoke on how the pursuit of Napster was a “waste of time.” He made a reference to the VCR and it’s affect on the cinema industry. He stated “when the VCR first appeared, the movie industry fought tooth and nail to stop the new technology, calling it a tool of piracy that would destroy cinema.
Today we find those studios making more money from home video than from the box offices.” Aside from the fact that it is cheaper to buy burnt cd’s it is also more convenient. I can remember a number of times when I spent $15 on an album and after listening to it I felt like I was robbed out of my money. Many people buy cd’s because a certain track might be on it or because their favorite artist is featured on the song. Another reason why I prefer to purchase burnt cd’s is that albums usually hit the Internet about a month or so before their tentative release dates. So if I have a chance to listen and possess an album a month in advance then I can have some idea of what the album is going to be like and if I think it is really worth purchasing at a retail store. Bootlegging has been going on for centuries and will continue to go on as long as there is money to be made.
The future for music on the Internet is uncertain, however as long as there are outlets similar to Napster on the Internet then I can pretty much guarantee that they will be put to good use. So while labels continue to spend more money on legal fees to counteract the exchange of their music on the web, I will continue to find new ways to get music. As far as predictions go for the end of record companies as we know them; I feel that it is slightly feasible but at the same time highly impossible. The Internet leaves out the single and most important factor needed in running a respected long-standing business and that is the face-to-face interaction with the company. However only time will tell and until then all we can do is wait and see what the future has in store for music on the Internet.
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