Computerization's Effect on the Recording Industry

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Computerization's Effect on the Recording Industry

Abstract: Music is one of the oldest known forms of human expression. It has not, however, been left unchanged by the rapid computerization that has dramatically altered so much of our society. The recording industry plays an important role in the world of modern music, and it has been affected more profoundly than most other areas of music. This essay identifies ways in which the introduction of computers and the internet have affected the recording industry, specifically in terms of music distribution and the emergence of new musical styles. It assesses whether these changes are beneficial or harmful to the recording industry.

1. Introduction

Music has existed for millennia, yet it is not immune to change. Music in many ways provides a window on our society, and as society changes so does music. The invention of new instruments, ways of playing music, and media for storing music, all have impacted music, musicians, and those who bring music to the general public. Although the advent of computerization has brought about changes in how music is created, the recording industry has perhaps been the most visibly affected by these changes in technology. As the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) aptly puts it, "no other decade in history has contributed as much to the growth of the music industry as the 1990s, the digital decade" [1]. With any radical change, there are both positive and negative consequences of this change, and such consequences depend on the specific viewpoint being considered. Has computer technology had a positive or negative effect on the recording industry? This paper will assess changes to the recording industry from several different perspectives.

In order to evaluate this question, the term "effect" must be broken down into areas that are more clearly defined. The recording industry facilitates the transfer of music from the musicians to the intended audience; in other words, it is concerned with the distribution of music. The technology that has most heavily impacted distribution is the internet. The internet creates a means by which a certain piece of music can instantly become accessible to hundreds of millions of people around the world. The second important aspect of computerization is the creation of a new audience. This audience has significantly different tastes and requirements relating to music; a fact that the industry must take into account when deciding what types of music to sell.

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