The Impact of Digital Technology Sample Assignment

The Impact of Digital Technology on the Recorded Music Industry


I am very grateful to Dr. Brian Kavanagh, my mentor and lecturer. He gave me a lot of help during my year as a graduate student. He is very interested in my research idea on the impact of digital technology on recording music industry, and has been encouraging and helping me in the development of this paper. He always showed great patience and replied the e-mail immediately, which really helped me to finish this paper smoothly to a large extent. I would like to thank all the lecturers, seminar tutors and my personal tutor for their help during my master's degree. In addition, I am very grateful to my family for supporting me every moment of this year.


The ubiquitous nature of digital technology has transformed the world into a virtual village, which has implications for a wide range of industry sectors. In this digital era, the world has become highly reliant on the use of technology and internet resources. Industries such as retail, music, film, newspapers, and travel as well as industrial companies have meaningfully gained from this drastic evolution of technology. For instance, the development of automation technologies notably transformed the accounting sector as well as auditing roles. There now exist electronic accounting ledgers, spreadsheets, and financial statements (Ghasemi, Shafeiepour, Aslani, & Barvayeh, 2011, p113) that have standard layouts, which makes it easy for such technology to operate across the industry sectors. Moreover, these ledgers can have digital certificates that improve their legitimacy and can be used to complete transactions across the internet. Various accounting companies can connect to banks and make or collect payments via the internet (Ghasemi et al., 2011, p115).

The internet and digitisation have also transformed the content industries (Galuszka, 2015, p254) such as the film, photography, and the music sectors. Radical technological innovation has been disruptive to many industries but it has also presented new opportunities for existing firms and new enterprises. This evolution has gained much attention in both the mainstream media and the academic world. In academia, many scholars have published articles describing the changes in technology and how they have affected the content industry. Benner and Waldfogel (2016, p129) describe how recording companies shifted to narrowing market segments, and releasing already successful artists with large market appeal as measures to increase revenues in the declining music industry. Conversely, Huang (2016, p604) examines the emerging business model of offering music for free with the option of a premium membership that allows more flexibility of the consumer in regards to rented digital recordings.

Specifically, the music industry has gained notable attention due to the significant impact that digital technology has on this sector. Much emphasis has been placed on disruptive technologies and how they affected the demand for recorded music as well as the financial gains of recording companies and their artists. The emergence of digital platforms like Apple Music, Spotify, and Google Play, and the means to distribute and consume music online has influenced consumer behaviour as music fans increasingly expect to have access to music and often for free (Cunningham and Craig, 2016, p5409). The film industry provides another clear example of an industry transformed following the emergence of digital technology. The introduction of streaming technologies like Netflix and Amazon Prime has resulted in the decline in sales of VHS video, cable television and DVDs/ Blu-ray technology. This has caused the demise of high street video rental stores that were especially popular in the 1990s and into the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Similarly, the evolution of digital imaging has revolutionized photography. It has resulted in decline in analogue photography technologies and the emergence of ubiquitous digital imaging. For instance, the development of smart phones means that many people now carry high-resolution image capabilities in their pockets. Such digital technologies as well as the emergence of digital cameras caused the decline of analogue companies that refused to adapt; for instance, Kodak company remained adamant to adopt digital imaging which resulted in almost 80 percent loss of its workforce and market share, among other chaos (Lucas & Goh, 2009, p47). Rapid technological evolution also meaningfully changed the film industry. Once the roll film cameras improved in functionality, the cinematograph-a motion picture camera- became a reality (Fuller, 2009, p295). Before this type of camera, the film industry presented motion picture in the form of passing a celluloid film that contained photochemical images through a projector onto a white screen. However, today, film companies can now create movies through sophisticated digital technologies that facilitate shooting, editing, and distribution of motion picture (Culkin & Randle, 2003 p 79). Aside from these sectors, the recorded music industry has gained meaningful opportunities as well as challenges due to the drastic evolution of related technologies.

In this paper, I will focus on the transformation of the music industry, which represents one of the most radical shifts in an industry sector following digital innovation. At the end of the 20th century, the music industry began to go through a significant transformation, beginning with the introduction of Napster, a peer-to-peer file sharing platform that disregarded copyright law. The introduction of Napster marked the beginning of the end of the traditional recorded music industry sector, which can be traced back to the invention of the phonograph by the great American inventor Thomas Edison in the late 19th century. The term “music industry” is prevalent in everyday journalistic disAssignment as well as in academia and generally denotes the sale plus purchase of recordings, the livelihoods of individuals involved, and the rights that accompany these recordings (Sterne, 2014, p50). The recorded music industry can be viewed as an ecosystem that includes many different actors, including musicians, accountants, music fans, sound engineers, lawyers, music producers and, record label executives. The majority of this industry sector is concerned with activities that facilitate the monetization of music recordings. Within this music business, the development of technology brought a challenging plus unique set of complications and opportunities. At the turn of the twenty-first century, the internet gained more popularity, giving rise to services that facilitated peer-to-peer file sharing like Napster that threatened the traditional recorded music industry (Betz, 2003, p265). During this period of unlimited music sharing, it was predicted that the music industry was headed for catastrophic losses and possible ruin (Witt, 2015). Schultz outlines the challenges facing the music industry and emphasises the possibility of a concert-based industry after the decline in demand and sales of music recordings (2009, p689). The end of the recorded music industry nearly became a reality when the involved parties experienced drastic declines in sales.

These losses were largely linked to the issues of property rights and piracy, which elicited a significant amount of attention from economists and academics. Wikström (2013) examines the disruptive effects of the internet which caused misuse of intellectual property while Leyshon (2014) explores the financial losses, negative growth, and falling sales that afflicted the recorded music industry in the early twenty-first century.

Despite these potential financial losses, some artists have chosen to release their music to fans for free as a form of marketing (Schultz 2009, p697). Moreover, other musicians have sought other models of generating incomes aside from the traditional sale of recorded media as the chief source of income (Cameron, 2016, p3). Artists and companies shifted from the regular sale of physical recordings to the streaming ecosystem that affected recording companies as well as independent musicians. However, even with music streaming generating revenues, without the purchase of records, many artists barely make financial gains from their endeavours. Only a few independent artists continue to rise and succeed in the dynamic cultural marketplace for modern music (Davis, 2016, p375). As a result of technological changes, the contemporary musician and recording companies have been forced to redefine themselves to become content providers as opposed to being creative producers; recorded music has now shifted from being a product to being content. Digital recorded music has gained new value as data instead of commercial forms of a musician’s expression (Negus, 2019, p364).

There have been a noteworthy number of theoretical literatures on the topics of piracy and intellectual property rights. Additionally, many scholars have sought to quantify the effects of declining demand for recorded music due to the prevalence of disruptive technologies in the delivery of this media. Although researchers have conducted meaningful investigations on the issue of technology and the recorded music industry, the available literature on the perspective of independent artists and companies in the sector. There is a deficiency of academic papers that conduct case studies to get an accurate account of the changes that musicians and intermediaries made due to the development of technology in the recorded music industry.

The traditional recorded music industry was hierarchical in nature. Record labels largely dictated when artists could record, what they recorded, and how the resulting products were distributed. Consumers had to buy recordings on the high street in stores such as HMY, tower records, and the virgin megastore. Napster was in introduced in (date?) To threaten this model, most obviously because it allowed users of the software to share music for free online, which threatened copyright arrangements that had protected the owners of copyright through most of the 20th century….

As a response to these evolutions of technology on the recorded music industry, this paper explores the opportunities and challenges presented to musicians and music organisations following digital. Most of the relevant studies to this research began from the late nineties, with a large percentage of the prior studies like Reynolds (2008), Liebowitz (2004), and McIntyre (2007) deliberating the issue of technology and the music industry from the perspective of demand and consumption of physical music recordings. Few of the current studies, however, have shifted their focus to how the independent musicians and the intermediary companies reacted to the innovative changes to remain relevant in the industry. This study seeks to continue addressing this gap in the literature and support the emerging research under this new perspective. In the investigation, I will attempt to understand the broader recorded music business that goes beyond the dale of music recordings. As such, I hope to gain insights and offer some answers to the changes that independent artists and companies made to adapt to the complete transformation of the music industry into a digital ecosystem.

The research will proceed as follows. In chapter two, I will provide an introduction and review of the extant literature on how technological innovation has shaped the content industry. Then, I will focus on the recorded music industry and the innovative trends that led to significant shifts in the industry. In considering these changes, I will consider specific digital technologies and how they have shaped the industry in an ever-evolving digital economy. The analysis of this past literature also presents the current state of the recorded music industry and highlights the significant challenges plus opportunities that technology provided the industry. The section also explains how past literature assists in raising the research questions and gives insights into structure, design, and develop this investigation. Secondly, the following chapter of this paper will illustrate the methodology that will be adopted for the research. Under the methodology, the steps taken to collect and analyse the relevant data will be explained together with the justifications and possible challenges that the researcher expects during the methodology design. In the next chapter of this paper, the results of the data analysis will be explained and discussed in detail to answer the research questions and generate further insights into the topic of technology and the recorded music industry. These results will be linked to the arguments created in the literature review process. Finally, the last chapter of this paper will summarise the contributions that this investigation has made to the theme of technology and the recorded music industry. Additionally, the limitations of the study will be highlighted, and some recommendations for future research will conclude the research paper.

Literature Review

This chapter discusses a review of the theoretical literature in technology and its effects on the content industry. It will analyse the evolution of technology and how it impacted the performance, creation, and consumption of the content industry. The study also examines how the development of technology transformed the content industry and the effects of these changes to the music sector. Finally, the reactions of various music professionals will be analysed and how artists have responded to the changes. Apart from covering literature by other scholars, the chapter entails a critical review and how this study will fill the gaps left by these authors.

Literature Review

Overview of the Content Industry

The thriving of science, research, and technology has motivated changes in many sectors; among them is the content industry which consists of film, music, broadcasting, newspapers, among other subcategories. Contemporary society is currently in an era of dematerialisation; content consumption has evolved from paper to electronic format (Ahlers, 2006). Many scholars have considered the term ‘dematerialisation’ from the perspective of production and economics. Hence, the term is mainly used to refer to the improvement of efficiency of products as well as the reusing or recycling of materials for environmental sustainability (Petrides, Papacharalampopoulos, Stavropoulos, & Chryssolouris, 2018, p 87). However, the term can also be used to describe the process through which products are shifting from fixed carriers to free flow through networks and devices (Van Campenhout, Frens, Overbeeke, Standaert, & Peremans, 2013, p15). For instance, music consumption has switched from fixed materiality in the form of audio tapes and CDs to intangible digital formats (Magaudda, 2011, p18).

In the era of dematerialisation, technology change has significantly transformed many areas in the content industry; take, for example, the film sector, which has had revolutionary material changes. The film industry can attribute its success on the development of better photographic methods. The development of roll film cameras (Fuller, 2009) motivated the cinematograph-a motion picture camera- and influenced movies across the globe. Previously, companies delivered motion picture by passing a celluloid film with photochemical images through a projector (Culkin & Randle, 2003 p 79). However, twenty-first-century technological advancements led to the development of sophisticated ways to shoot, edit, and distribute the digitally stored film, with scales tipping towards computers, TVs and other devices (Bordwell et al., 2012, p32). The transition to digitally created movies allowed the development of higher quality videos with better clarity and more flexibility for the audiences to view-on-demand basis (Zhu, 2003, p3). Besides, film companies can now reach broader audiences using subtitles and increase reception by creating movie trailers for diverse consumer markets (Hesford, 2013 p5). Filmmakers can now make complex movies that were not possible before using more sophisticated cinematic formal elements (Piccirillo, 2011 p1). The development of film also motivated changes in the way audiences consumed content.

According to Cunningham and Craig (2016), globalisation led to global use of content constituting of consumers with dynamic needs and expectations. These consumers demand different requirements from the digital ecosystem; from wanting faster and cost-effective procurement to wanting convenient means of getting content. Such demands also drive changes and competition among the producers and distributors of digital content. In particular, the music industry has taken advantage of technology, especially the digital aspects that drive production, consumption, and distribution of content. For instance, consumers are deviating from CDs to instant streaming service platforms like Spotify and YouTube. 

Technology and the Recorded Music Industry

Evolution of the Recorded Music Industry

The recorded music industry, which is the focus of this study is an excellent example of industry transformation in the digital era. The radical change in the recorded music industry is of interest, especially regarding issues of copyrights and, distribution, and consumption. In the modern music ecosystem, access to content as convenient as a few clicks away. But how did this sector get to such developments? How did we move from the age of phonographs to the use of platforms like iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube? The history of the recorded music industry began with the first phonograph, which was the invention of Thomas Edison, and it could record as well as playback audio (Thompson, 2016 p8). This phonograph was used to distribute various forms of sound, from music, artistic whistling, and jokes (Segrave, 2015 p5). This was the beginning of the evolution of the recorded music industry. These recordings were placed on coin slots machines on streets and in restaurants for people to listen to a few minutes of the recorded music or jokes and became a big hit (Almind, 2009).

The next step was to avail private recordings to sell to individuals. After the phonograph came other devices like the vinyl and gramophone; they fundamentally changed how people consumed music (Mirarchi, 2019, p2). These new tools paved the way for the era of availing content on a demand basis. Artists could now reach vast audiences. Nonetheless, music from early instruments could only be heard in a single place and time; then they would be lost to memory. By 1920, artists began to form music that fit into genres, and some had released singles that sold over a million copies to the public (Thompson, 2016, p10).

In 1931, the phonograph had transformed the recorded much industry so significantly; other inventions began to stream in like the 1934 electric guitar by Rickenbacker and Beauchamp, which dramatically changed the popular music (Lähdeoja, 2008). This instrument resulted from the need for louder volume music. Further technological development caused dramatic improvements to this guitar as well as microphones, and amplifiers, which created opportunities for digital processing of audio later in the 80s.

Next, Columbia Records introduced the ‘Long-playing’ vinyl records and changed the technology of the music industry in the late 1940s (Witt, 2015, p157). These records could store longer bits of audio. Using the LP vinyl record HMV and Sony Classical recreated nearly five hundred copies of their very first performance (Dierking, 2018, p3). In the 1960s, Abbey Road’s synthesizer gave light to a new soundscape to the musician’s and the performers (Breaker, 2018). This tool paved the way for modern types of recorded music like techno and hip-hop, both of which are still celebrated today. They enhanced how people could express themselves using many musical instruments. With such sophisticated technology, it was possible to store the recorded music in records or tapes and distributed to interested parties. Of Assignment, with time, there was a need to improve the sizes and forms of storage for studio-recorded music. In came compact disks that allowed the convenience and considerable amounts of storage for music. Written using laser, these disks could be read using portable devices; however, they were later upgraded to DVDs for a better quality of audio plus video recordings, as well as more space for content.

Galuszka argues that the emergence of the internet transformed the nature of music intermediaries (2015, p254). The advent of the internet and mp3 platforms allow fast and easy download of music. The Mp3 music format is created in a way that makes files easy to download and fast to transmit. This type of audio file uses a data compression technology that allows smooth transmission even in environments that have limited bandwidth (Sterne, 2006, p828). Moreover, the creators of the Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG) which MP3 is part of, designed the technology to facilitate cross-platform compatibility, anonymity between the sender a receiver, stockpiling, as well as easy access plus storage (Sterne, 2006, p829).

The Mp3 technology was in place as early as 1991, long before the disruptive file-sharing technologies like Napster came along (Pras, Zimmerman, Levitin, & Guastavino, 2009, p1). However, Napster threatened to cripple the industry due to the massive sharing of files and illegal downloads. The files sharing network arrived when there was a strict limit to access if new music. Internet users could only access digital music through legal channels. However, this software allowed consumers to freely share their MP3 files as well as download the entire catalogues of music from the internet at no cost (Madden, 2009, p6). Waldfogel (2017, p195) notes the effects that digitisation had on copyright protection, caused a decline in the music industry. The popularity of Napster, together with the technology of MP3 that allowed files to be easily shared and downloaded, the legitimate sale of music files was drastically dying. Consequently, in Spring 1995 in a conference room in Germany, a group of impartial experts announced the death of the mp3 in favour of its rival the mp2. After four years of pushing sales for mp3, investors had begun to abandon the mp3 inventors, they were running out of funding from the state, and there was no long-term customer for the music technology (Witt, 2015, p11). However, the mp3 music survived and is still in use even today.

Later on, Steve Jobs invented the tiny device with an excellent memory for music storage known as an iPod that shook the music industry due to high demand. This feature was later embedded in mobile phones that enabled them to store music and access them at any time (Breaker, 2018, p15). The later age in music has been the invention of streaming sites such as SoundCloud, YouTube, and iTunes that one does not need to have storage in their devices to access the music; all files are on the cloud and can be located on the go. The innovations that occurred in the music industry transformed the business model of how artists and companies made money as well as how audiences consumed content. However, it is essential to understand how these technological changes affected the industry both positively and negatively.

Impact of Technological Development on the Recorded Music Industry

The development of digital methods of media collection and distribution caused dematerialization of the recorded music. Dematerialization of the recorded music industry has produced significant benefits to the recorded music and the companies involved. A close inspection of the music industry will reveal that over the last ten years, the market for music has profoundly transformed due to the prosperous digital music and internet-based services like peer-to-peer networks, mp3, and digital music stores (Magaudda, 2011, p20). This has caused significant fluidity in the portability of music using digital formats that are intangible. The distribution of music online has also led to the massive development of portable devices like the iPod and broadband internet connections to share this music. For instance, in 2008 alone, the Apple online music platform iTunes prevailed over the Walmart chain by becoming the world’s largest distributor of music that year (Magaudda, 2011, p23). Although the dematerialization of the industry promoted positive benefits for distribution and consumption of content, it caused severe challenges like the issue of copyright infringement.

Concerns of Copyright Infringement

Nonetheless, with the development of streaming sites like Apple iTunes, SoundCloud, and Spotify, the most significant interest has been the issue of copyright ownership. When an artist allows a company to upload and distribute their music, who owns the rights to the profits made from this sale? Copyrights, as a form of intellectual property rights, reinforce the financial frameworks of the recorded music industry. Growth of the internet means that companies must continually reinvent their distribution means to take advantage of revenues from emerging platforms and technologies. However, these music production companies and their artists must find ways to ensure that their copyrights to various parts of the music are protected. For instance, in the UK, the copyright to a song is split into music, sound recording, and lyrics (Hviid, Izquierdo Sanchez, & Jacques, 2017 p12). For musical bands and other artists that allow their music to be distributed by third-parties, the owners of the content have copyright and retain the right to approve the distribution of their music at a fee. However, in the case of a band, what happens to those individuals that took part in the creation of music yet do not have songwriting credits? Incomes for such persons come from record sales, which they mostly receive after the recording company has begun to make profits (Tada, n.d., p6). Online platforms need to ensure that they get permission to distribute music from the copyright owners of the composition and sound recordings of the songs.

Piracy and The Nearly Crippled Music Industry

Another crucial problem which was highly researched by many scholars is the rampant piracy, which involves illegal downloading and distributing music. Witt (2015) indicates that companies may make significant losses by piracy developments in the form of employees that got arrested as well as financial losses. Even today, piracy is still a substantial challenge in the music industry, and various artists and organisations have made attempts to reduce the prevalence of this vice. Piracy not only undermines the creative efforts of the artists and companies involved in the creation of music; it also leads to significant losses to these parties (Didi, 2016, p7). Liebowitz, S. J. (2005) describes file-sharing as the reason for the overall decline in record sales. He also indicates that the progeny of Napster still allows millions of music listeners to download music (and other) files for free (Liebowitz, S. J., 2004). The free downloading and distribution of music denies the owners and distributors the right to financial profits as a result of the legal sale of the music. However, the development of the internet and peer-to-peer sharing technologies makes it nearly impossible to eliminate piracy of recorded music (Tyler, 2012, p2103). As early as the 1970s distributors and producers of recorded music understood the negative implications of technology that allowed the prevalence of rebellious behaviours. For instance, vinyl records, pre-recorded tapes, and even CDs could easily be duplicated using sophisticated software and sometimes could yet be done at home using personal computers (Witt, 2015). This posed a significant challenge since companies were beginning to lose their incomes and customer base. After all, one could argue that pirated music is much cheaper and convenient to acquire that the legal content.

Distributors and producers first attempted to reduce and prevent piracy by forming the Digital Rights Management (Davies, Parry, Carruthers, & Kepple-Palmer, 2015, p43). However, this was not successful, owing to the unprecedented boundaries of technological innovation and more creative piracy methods. Today, companies and are trying to reduce the instances of piracy by offering some songs for free on streaming sites, with the option of purchasing premium accounts on these platforms (Halmenschlager & Waelbroeck, p2). On these sites, users can choose to have limited access to the digital content or a premium version where they have fewer restrictions (Kim, Nam, & Ryu, (2017, p264). By offering consumers a higher quality version for free but with limits, or under a paid subscription, there is a higher likelihood of reducing the number of people resulting in piracy.

Other Impacts of Technology on The Record Music Industry

The development of technology also led to the entry of smaller companies and individuals into the music industry.  The new technology that was scale-reducing allowed the entry of product innovators, which allowed the shift of the market share from larger corporations to more modern and smaller entrants into the industry that increased competition (Hviid, Izquierdo-Sanchez, & Jacques, 2018, p245). Magnetic tape recorders significantly reduced the costs of recording various music performances through cheaper editing, and the hardware used came at a more reasonable price (Kimizuka, 2012, p190). This allowed new entry into the market on a large scale which promoted the development of products based on culture, for instance, Rock and Roll (Alexander, 1994, p116). The emergence of sophisticated technologies allowed the entry of independent record labels that constituted small-scale operations that few persons run from private addresses (Strachan, 2007, p247). These persons undertake all the activities and processes necessary to facilitate the commercial release of recorded music, hence eliminating the middle-man.

Technological developments that led to the creation of social media platforms have allowed the emergence of direct sales to fans. Major record labels are now shifting emphasis from albums and songs to the promotion of stars and supporting other activities apart from music recording such as tours and merchandising (Marshall, 2013, p78). This philosophy is increasingly becoming popular among music labels as they attempt to adapt and remain relevant in the industry. The narrative emerged due to the general sampling nature of the contemporary music market. People increasingly want to sample digital music before they can make legal purchases (Dewan & Ramaprasad, 2012, p1057). Apart from the need to test new music, the world has become obsessed with the rock star and pop idol personalities (Berk, 2017, p96), making companies increase their emphasis on these stars. The companies attempt to eliminate the risks that come with new artists by directing their focus to artists whom the audience has sampled their music and have tremendous mass appeal. Such stars have a high potential for significant sales, and these companies have devised means to guarantee that these artists’ image remains appealing and relevant to the audience (Margiotta, 2012, p8). Recording companies can leverage the technological advancements of social media, like promoted ads and AI (Rivera, 2018; Stelzner, 2018) to deliberately distribute material that support the desired image of the target star. Moreover, artists can independently promote themselves and successfully reach audiences on their own using the internet and globally networked communication and the use of their social media accounts (Bernardo & Martins, 2014, p8).

The response of Artists and Producers to the decline of the Industry

Although most record labels and companies failed to adapt to the emerging technologies that changed the recorded music’s production, marketing, and distribution, those that embraced these advancements have benefited. A report conducted on the industry by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry revealed that the mass adoption of streaming of music led to a 5.9 percent growth of the music industry in 2016 alone (Ellis-Petersen, 2017, p2). This is a significant difference from the previous fifteen years that saw a massive decrease in revenues of record labels due to piracy. At first, artists and companies predicted that online streaming would finally destroy what was remaining of the industry, especially after thousands of companies across North America and Europe went out of business due to piracy and streaming (Hracs & Jansson, 2017, p2). However, surprisingly, online streaming sites like Spotify and tidal have millions of paying subscribers that are willing to pay a monthly fee to enjoy their music on the go. Furthermore, between 2003 and 2006, legal media sales were at a billion downloads (Ogden, Ogden, & Long, 2011, p124). Currently, the role of record labels is to promote the streaming of a musician’s content to cut through the stiff competition among artists and increase the attention of the audience.

Today, the sales of recorded music are still on a rapid decline. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) 's annual " Recording Industry In Numbers" report, the global record market revenue in 2009 fell 7.2 percent year-on-year, while the global music revenue declined 12.7 percent to $11.93 billion (, 2014). However, in the same year, digital downloads increased by one percent (Jensen, 2019, p3). Apart from the use of streaming sites, various artists have sought to increase their revenues through the sale of tickets during tours and more recently, direct-to-fan-sales. Companies and artists that respond to the needs of the consumers continue to thrive with independent retailers such as Amoeba Music succeeding through the delivery of personalised and curated music (Jensen, 2019, p13). Additionally, others have sought the convenience of using social media to directly market their music to consumers and allow them to sample the musical content before the official release. Some will post teasers of their music videos and keep the fans updated with posters to increase the attention to the content once it is released (Ogden, Ogden, & Long, 2011, p124). Record companies that are still standing responded through the use of educational campaigns and taking legal action against the illegal distribution of music. For instance, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) responded to piracy by education the fans about the legal ramifications of breaking the law (Reynolds, 2008, p978). These campaigns also promoted the benefits off owning legal copies of music. The companies and affected artists shifted their emphasis from Mp3 to the users of Napster and their infringements, hence, they took legal action against the unauthorised services used for file sharing (Alves & Michael, 2005, p3). Also, these lawsuits force internet service providers to reveal the identities of infringers or pay for the damage caused as a result of this infringement (Margiotta, 2012, p6-7).

Summary and Research Gap

The development of technology is a significant driver of the changes experienced in many industries. This study seeks to understand how radical changes in technology affected the recorded music industry and the companies involved. Understanding the nature of the techniques in the music industry is essential in determining the impact that these innovations had on the stakeholders within the music sector. This paper which investigates the changes that technology had on the music industry is significant in increasing the scope of literature on this topic. Moreover, it helps in the assessment of not only the damaging effects of the disruptive innovations and the financial implications but also on the opportunities that the industry stakeholders reaped.

Various literature sources reveal that technology change caused significant changes that resulted in both positive and negative impacts. This research seeks to support this literature though evidenced study, moreover, it will attempt to reduce the significant lack of documentation that explains why there was a massive decline in the recorded music industry. Majority of the scholars identify the changes that occurred as a result of the emergence of technology. However, there is little research on the constructive impacts of technology on the contemporary recorded music industry. Moreover, there is the need to consider the effects that the increased protection of intellectual property in the digital age limits the options for many artists. As Benner (2016, p.129) mentioned, some technological changes might reduce the search for talent. This study attempts to fill this gap by investigating:

  • The increasingly constructive effects of technological evolution on the recorded music industry.
  • The use of protective technology to control creativity and reduce options for artists. The researcher makes use of publications by scholars like Demers (2006), Lessig (2004), and McIntyre (2007) explore the effects of protective technology on the creativity in the modern recorded music industry.

Thus, I choose my research question to be “How is radical technology change impacting the recorded music industry sector?”. To address the research question, I will inform the research method of collecting data as well as analysis of this data. The next chapter will develop and design a methodology that will guide the investigation of relevant data to answer the research question.


The previous section provides a review of earlier studies in the field of technology and the creative industry. The analysis identifies that there is a significant positive correlation between the evolution of technology and the creative industry, more specifically, the recorded music industry. Although there is a considerable emphasis on the popular press on the recorded music industry’s transformation by technology, the academic world has written very little on this topic. This study focuses on the revolution that technology has on the recorded music industry due to the little attention that academia has placed on the theme. Moreover, past literature barely considers the reasons why the parties involved in the music industry responded to these technological changes and impact the way they did. Say there is a way to create theories relating to the evolution of technology and its effects on the content industry, the recorded music, in particular, is an excellent example of how technology shapes or disrupts industries in the digital era. One of the biggest concerns with this transformation is the issue of copyright. At a time when content is available for free download online, it is necessary to consider the disruptive effects of such availability.

Therefore, this research seeks to address these gaps in the literature. Furthermore, the study aims to understand the response that affected organisations have taken and can continue to make, as well as the opportunities that technology offers to the recorded music industry. This section introduces the methodology adopted for this study and explains how the investigation is designed to answer the following research question:

  • How is radical technology change impacting the recorded music industry sector?

This study adopts a qualitative research method to help explore the four research questions. The qualitative review of the arguments and policies of other scholars facilitates the foundation of this investigation. The qualitative research method is concerned with the quality of data and attempts to understand the underlying reasons plus motivations for people’s actions (MacDonald & Headlam, 2015 p8). It is an interpretive process that contextualises the research to derive different perspectives for the identified themes and conclusions. Moreover, the study uses a secondary data collection method, which is a process that is gaining widespread recognition in contemporary studies (Andrews et al., 2012 p13 & 14). Using secondary sources for data collection allows for the research to increase value in acquiring information plus giving new insights using existing data. It is crucial to guarantee the reliability of the collected data. This secondary study uses published data from the following potentially credible sources:

  • Publications form federal or state governments.
  • Publications form foreign governments or international institutions such as the UNO, World Bank, etc.
  • Academic peer-reviewed journals.
  • Public records plus statistics.
  • Books and technical reports from universities and research scholars.

The study also seeks to find the relationship between specific variables in addition to comparing findings from these past studies. Aedh and Elfak (2019 p2) assert the significance of selecting a criterion for including the relevant literature for the data analysis. The researcher uses the following aspects of data analysis relevant to the secondary qualitative research process (SAGE Research Methods, 2013, p v4-2):

  • Retrospective interpretation
  • Analytic expansion
  • Amplified sampling
  • Cross-validation
  • Armchair induction

The adopted process guarantees the generation of conclusions that are detailed and rich in ideas as well as concepts. The study will not only appreciate the percentage of the music industry that technology affected but also the reasons why the involved parties evolved and reacted the way they did. Moreover, secondary data collection and analysis is an effective method for knowledge generation that eliminates the time and financial constraints involved with the primary data collection processes (Boslaugh, 2007 p3&4). The data sets that the study implements are highly valuable since they are derived from studies that share similar objectives and research questions. Furthermore, these data are complete and apply to diverse populations, which, when combined, allow a global perspective of the impact that technology had on the music industry and the participating organisations. Nonetheless, there are specific methodological aspects that the secondary researcher must consider when using existing data to generate new insights and investigate an original research question. The most salient limitation to secondary data analysis is the data set was initially intended for other purposes and studies (Johnston, 2014 p624). As a result, the data may lack particular information that the current researcher may wish to acquire. Also, the secondary researcher was not an active participant in the primary data collection process. Hence, they are unaware of how effective the primary investigators conducted the collection process or if the data set is restricted by issues like bias or low response rates. Finally, the secondary researcher must guarantee that they do not violate the confidentiality of the population where the data was collected (SAGE Research Methods, 2013 p.v4-6).

This chapter states the aims of the study as well as the method adopted to investigate the research questions. The study identifies the gaps in the current studies about the impressions of technology on the recorded music industry by reviewing past literature plus insights from qualitative analysis of publications regarding the research theme. The next chapter gives the results of this qualitative analysis and how these results allow further discussion of the research topic.


London Symphony Orchestra

The London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) is one of the world’s leading orchestras. Since its inception in 1904, it has provided a platform for thousands of excellent and talented players who in many cases have become music icons of the 21st century (Simon-Lewis, 2017). The sheer magnitude of its operations has led to the creation of hundreds of pieces of music and thus, in the age of technology it has become a fundamental need to ensure that it is able to adapt to the times in their management, storage and recording of music for present and future use.

The efforts of the business in technology come from a need of the business to liaise with international promoters, sponsors and venue organizers. According to their Chief Information Officer (CIO), the use of technology has been an imperative means of reducing overheads and standardizing the nature of operations in a simple way (Bartram, 2008). The modalities of music have been the business rather visionary in how its business processes work and in correspondingly offered it a high degree of consistency.

One of the main areas in which the proliferation of technology has been has been in the scheduling system. The LSO has numerous performances from a wide range of classical and modern musicianship. The use of the scheduling system has been imperative to the performance of the business through recording various pieces of music within the database such that the group can understand the number of players they need for which performance in a concert (Bartram, 2008). Again, they also schedule music activities when rehearsing for new music that isolates when particular bits of players join in or exit in the musical piece. The required level of precision in playing music is time sensitive and thus, using technology has been an aid to the goals of the business (Bartram, 2008).

The second major area has been the creation of a record label (The Digital Technology Group (DTG), 2019). This division of the business has allowed numerous of people the opportunity to produce their own music. The Digital Technology Group has utilized the Candide Discovery Studio as a platform for a variety of students and musicians to write and perform music of any genre. The software and studio tools use top of the range materials that allow the recording of music as a means to generate new content and drive an interest of music among the new generation (The Digital Technology Group (DTG), 2019). The recording label has also been instrumental in the preservation, recording and archiving of orchestral performances that are later used for commercial or entertainment purposes. The organization has pegged its success of allowing musicians to become part of the shareholders in the music they create and control all parts of the production and distribution (Kavanaugh, 2018, p. 6). Hence, they benefit directly from the operations of the business rather than receiving royalties.

Similarly, these digital tools have also encouraged the use of Spotify. This platform has increased the global access that consumers have in the access of orchestral music performances from the group. It has also been a point of sales for content. The business is able to market itself to millions of consumers who are unable to visit their performances in person by giving them quality music over digital platforms. Musicians can create content under the studio and use Spotify as its launching pad through the LSO platform. 

However, its most remarkable use of Vicon’s technology has perhaps been bringing its music to life by utilizing motion capture (Simon-Lewis, 2017). The studio has since 2016 being collecting visual data on motion capture cameras and then animating those movements (Simon-Lewis, 2017). This animated imaging creates a startling color that brings to life the power of the music. This tool has resonated with many creatives in the market who seek a visual projection of emotion from music.

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

This entity is one of the most prolific orchestras in the world (Kara, 2016). The enterprise has pioneered a platform that allows for quality digital access to its music all over the world. The Digital Concert Hall that was created in 2009 has assisted in the launch of classical music streaming. Classical music is often seen as old-fashioned music; however, the merging of art and technology has made it more accessible to the current generation. The organization has been able to extend its historical engagement with music with new technologies (Kavanaugh, 2018, p. 8)

The use of the Digital Concert Hall has made almost all of the music programs that the enterprise has available online. It provides a HD quality sound at about 2500 Kbit/s in bandwidth (McWilliam, 2019). Listeners can therefore listen to the music at convenience and have access to more than 200 concert recordings that are archived through easy to access databases. This platform has also been useful in the transmission of educational orchestral pieces at no cost to the user. Thus, works of previous musicians become part of visual musical education (Kara, 2016).

In line with the digital concert, the business has utilized other peripheral tools such as Facebook and You Tube as part of its marketing approach. Users of these platforms can access the music, albeit with limitations, and enjoy quality music. Additionally, it works with cinemas to offer live streams of their music in about 80 locations in Germany and 40 in other European nations (Kara, 2016).

Achieving this level of success has been expensive (Kavanaugh, 2018, p. 8). The orchestra has utilized its supporters such as Deutsche bank and donors to implement an extensive system that allows for the sustainable use of music. These financiers have offered significant support that has enabled the group to have access to valuable bits of resources. One such resource is the use of Amazon streaming service (McWilliam, 2019). It is a challenge for many enterprises to offer a high definition music quality in classical music without interruptions in the transmission. Again, bandwidth bottlenecks have been problematic a well (McWilliam, 2019).  Thus, it has needed the use of a globally distributed infrastructure that can support its developmental and technical needs.

The Digital Concert Hall is a fundamental use of technology. This group has achieved sustainability whereby its music is available online for users at any time and place (Anderson, 2014). Again, it reduces the overall overheads in performance as it can gain monetary benefits from its utilization of the streaming services for live performances across cinemas. The hall is also an archive of vast music collections from past decades of composers. Lastly, its collaboration with the Panasonic Corporation is likely to improve the audio-visual technologies of the group in 4K or HDR video and higher resolution audio systems (Panasonic, 2016).

Solo Artists

Technology has significantly changed how musicians create, record, share and earn form their music. The invention of the internet has been a critical piece in ensuring that solo artists can gain numerous platforms for exposure (O’Dair, 2016).  One of the ways in which technology has improved the careers of many solo artists is in the distribution of music. In the past, artists bore significant costs in pressing discs, taking them to stores, collecting their returns and marketing their music. However, integrated platforms such as Spotify have eliminated the need for this lengthy process by allowing artists to create accounts, link them to their social media pages, and earn from the people who buy their music (O’Dair, 2016). These new systems can assist solo artists track their followers, sales and earnings with much ease as opposed to the traditional system.

Secondly, unlike in the past the recording of music has become less restrictive. Consumers have choices such as Cubase and Audacity that allow for the integration of various musical tools in one platform (Himonides, 2012). One of the areas of consideration of perhaps the use of synthesizers, MIDI, autotune and a wide range of inputs that have made music creation a one-man job. Solo artists can use various online tutorials that would assist them in having the right skills to create a personalized recording studio with minimal equipment. These technologies have eased the process of music creation, as well as decreased the overall cost in music costs for artist who are starting off (Wolfe, 2012). 

Another area of concern is the copyrights and intellectual property rights for solo artists. In the past, there were few modalities that would prevent established artist from sampling music from solo artist without offering due credit (Low, 2016). However, today, the use of artificial intelligence on platforms such as You Tube and music streaming services have upped the ability to catch content that is replicated or has not been credited to the original user. Technology has increased the requirement of fair use making it easy for solo artists to not suffer rip-offs and loss of monetary compensation from the use of their works.

Technology has also made it possible to compound various data on one platform. A solo artist can have all their music digitally available and, in their control, (Low, 2016). The use of CDs in the past, allowed only a limited number of tracks on one disc. However, through loss-less compression and larger storages, solo musicians can put their projects on several sites. This process eases the process of marketing as it ensures that consumers have access to artists’ works from one source. Again, the solo artists can increase their visibility in the market by linking their music pages with social media pages. Hence, today, it is possible to breakthrough as a solo artist than in the past (Low, 2016).


Technology is a suitable method to further the visibility and reach of orchestral music and solo artists. Its use has led to the significant growth in the music sector as well as issues related to piracy, intellectual property and copyrights (Lee, 2017). One of the main implications is in perhaps how the use of technological tools have disrupted the economics of the commercial music sector by eliminating the previous barriers of having to work under a label for management, or requiring significant amounts of resources in the recording and distribution of music (Urbinati, Chiaroni, Chiesa, Franzo & Frattini, 2019). As such, the music sector has undergone transformation due to the effects of technological advances.

Disruptive Technology

The theory of disruptive innovation presents the best way to look at the efforts of the LSO and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Their deployment of technology within their performance and business processes have resulted in a significant shift in the manner in which the music industry operates (Urbaniti et al., 2019). In the case of the latter, the digital concert hall is a visionary and proprietary tool that has changed the overall music experience of users all over the world. The disruptive theory maintains that through technology, the music business has undergone a change that has eased, simplified, increased accessibility and affordability as opposed to empowering the status quo (Urbaniti et al., 2019).

In the performance of classical music, the perceived ideal is to watch the performers live, within their orchestral halls. However, with technology, this approach has shifted whereby millions of users can access performances from their digital devices in a rather ubiquitous manner.  Users all around the world can access online platforms that hold classical music with convenience. Again, unlike in the past where people had to travel, devices have become an interface that have facilitated the ability of people to use and enjoy performances with increased affordability.  Thus, the disruptive innovations have been a positive force.

Orchestral businesses such as the LSO have to look for ways in which they can adapt to the changing times and tide (Janer et al., 2016). First, consumers of music want better quality and a higher level of convenience. Thus, there has been a need to endear themselves to a new generation of listeners who may have had little exposure to classical music performances. The use of technology is a tool of endearment that bridges the gap between classical or rather old-fashioned music with mainstream technologies. Use of streaming services such as Spotify allow the younger generation to have access to hundreds of recorded music that with time may become popular (Lee, 2017).

Secondly, technology has made it possible to offer increased audio quality. The evolution of technologies has led to digital tools that can compress music, record it and store it in high resolution without losses in either of the processes. Higher audio quality in 3D or 4K versions are slowly gaining traction to be the future standards. Through the digital concerts, audiences from all over the world can enjoy music in the same quality as those who hear it live. Additionally, with the collaboration from cloud service providers, the streaming quality as well is in almost the same dimensions as the audio. In the past, musical content of high resolution and quality would require a significant amount of bandwidth. However, there are rapid technologies that have enabled compression, transmission and scheduling of music at a high level of synchronization. These aspects have significantly changed the music experience for consumers all over the world.

In a world of dwindling profits in music, the use of technology has been a boost to the cash inflows from recorded music from orchestras (O’Dair, 2016). Consider that recording technologies allow groups to maximize their profits through live performances and subscriptions to their music services. Again, in the case of the LSO, the recording studios allow mentorships for students at a fee. While there is still money to make in the sale of music, diversification into education and offering experiences have improved revenue streams from the businesses. Such an approach changes the economic landscape on aspects such as sales and distribution. Orchestras can reduce costs and time in sharing music and perpetually earn from the subscriptions that consumers have on their platforms.

For solo artists who are recording music, the technological disruption has been significant in establishing platforms for easier visibility. With tools such as You Tube and software such as Cubase, artists can create their music during live sessions with their clients. Such exposure has worked in bringing performers closer to their audiences and establishing connections that were previously not possible. These relationships have often driven some artists into the mainstream performances and offering them increased recognition in their areas of artistry.  For instance, Lindsey Stirling who began her career making music on YouTube with her violin has amassed a significant following from the efforts that she has made using a variety of digital tools. 

However, despite the overall benefits that come with these technological tools in recorded music, it is evident that musicians have to invest a substantive resource to realize the magnitude of success that large organizations such as the LSO and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra have been able to achieve. Unlike these two organizations, many smaller groups lack financiers who can support disruptive technologies. As such, many orchestras have to depend on traditional modalities that have been slowly losing traction across many target markets.  The lack of proper funding means that smaller groups have to function within lesser degrees of productivity and lack the capacity to innovate disruptive technologies.

Perhaps some non-profit organizations and profit organizations such as Google may assist in the support of classical music and recorded music. This social responsibility aims to not only increase the visibility of music groups, but also foster sustainability in the music sector. One of the areas of consideration is that while moving the music onto digital platforms, the recorded music will remain archived in the internet and thus, it will not be lost. Music will have longevity and artists of the present and future can use the archived music as part of their inspiration. These non-profit organizations can offer support to create recording studios that can improve on the motion in music concept created by the LSO, for instance. Fundamentally, the aim would be to support disruptive innovation that can lead to intergenerational inheritance of classical and orchestral music.

On the other hand, one must consider that various music groups have different needs and subsequently, resources. Just as seen in the case of these two major groups while one has focused on the creation of a music recording studio, the other has a digital concert hall (Janer et al., 2016). The underlying aim may be to establish sustainability in their operations; however, they have used different methods (Johansson, 2019). Thus, it is imperative to assess the main goals and needs of any musical group before they can deploy technologies to meet their objectives. It would not therefore be possible to use technology in a homogenous way. Many orchestras can have recording studios such as the LSO, but the Digital Concert Hall may be out of reach financially and in resource. These existential differences albeit being a challenge must not act as an inhibition to innovation and the use of technology.  Rather, it should act to inspire knowledge creation through the analysis of the music groups to come up with innovation that best fits their needs.

Devaluation of Music

Moving onto digital platforms has for a long time led to the assertions of the devaluation of music. Some of the outstanding culprits have been music piracy and little payments that platforms such as Spotify offer as compensation (Havighurst, 2015). However, some other emerging factors for instance has been the use of classical works by various orchestras on their various streaming services. For instance, each group offering their recordings of Beethoven symphony may overtime lead to a decrease in its allure. Some groups are selling music that has been resold countless times. Again, in the recording era, there has been a significant decrease in the contextualization of music (Havighurst, 2015). For instance, in the CD or the LP era, musicians and composers offered some information on credits through liner notes. However, in the era of digital music and their corresponding platforms, such data is lacking and in most cases they (audiences) cannot understand the collection of works that led to the music recording that they have (Marshall, 2019). The music thus become devoid of the place and time in which it was set and “the maven className that brings together culture and enlightened enthusiasm” (Havighurst, 2015). Hence, today’s music is nameless and faceless and lacks a story behind it particularly for classical musicians.  With the high level of reproduction and interpretation of the same symphonies there is a loss in the value of the music as it becomes commonplace and its original allure is lost (Marshall, 2019). For instance, Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, Requiem and Eine Klein Nachtmusik are well known to music lovers but a significant portion do not know the composer or the back story behind each composition.  

Further Discussion

Kusek et al., (2005) stated that a time would come when music would become like water or electricity in terms of availability. The new technologies would create a president where music was available everywhere. Kavanuagh (2018, p. 1) indicates that the use of new technologies has caused substantive shocks that have significantly transformed the musical structure.  The process of dematerializing has led to an increase in the peer to peer sharing of music.  Digital innovations have been the driving force of this change and has resulted in the disruption of the music sector. Smaller groups according to Moreau (2013) were in the initial stages very willing to transition into the use of digital technologies and dominant music groups were skeptical due to the loss of control over their music. Nonetheless, the industry standard has been the use technology such as the use of music apps and the improvement of the overall listening and visual experience for the users of music.

This change in the industry practice falls under the domain of disruptive innovations. This concept, under the disruptive innovation theory was created by Christensen (1997). This researcher identifies innovation as a means to create change that phases out ineffective practices in addition to creating a disruption in a specific mechanism. Ideally, this innovation causes technological discontinuities that lead to better outcomes in business processes. This disruption is visible across a number of factors.

First, new technological disruptions affect costs where older processes become unproductive and uncompetitive due to new innovations (Miller, Lockett & Ladd, 2018). In the music sector, recorded music used vinyl records, before graduating to CDs and other small digital storage material. However, today, there has been a significant shift that has led to the use of online platforms as a means to share and store music. Ideally, there have been numerous sales in these older media, however, with change in audio technologies such as the use of phones and peer-to-peer music sharing devices, it is not possible to make as much sales in the physical records (Cameron, 2016).

Secondly, innovation has affected quality (Miller, Lockett & Ladd, 2018). New technology in the recorded music have resulted in higher quality and resolution in audio and digital audio and video. Kavanaugh (2018) states that this shift is visible even among performers and artists by informing decisions on sheet music, video content and audio recordings (p. 2) It is possible to acquire records that have 3D audio and 4K visuals which was too expensive in the past and in some cases, not available at all. The success of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra has been their capacity to offer an audio and visual experience that is largely unmatched (McWilliam, 2019). The consumer market knows that such technologies are available, hence, it becomes a standard requirement (Cameron, 2016).   Disruptive technologies within computer software have also led to musicians and music producers having the capacity to manipulate audio recordings through effects such as denoisers that can clean and eliminate signal noises within audio recordings.

The third and perhaps most fundamental way in which digital disruptions have taken place has been in changing the regulatory frameworks and policies that govern the use of music (O’Dair, 2016). Recorded music is commonplace and available among consumers such that it has become difficult for companies to accrue loyalties from the use of their music. Once copyrights lapse, there are millions of people who are willing to reproduce the same music and share it. For instance, on platforms such as You Tube, there has been a proliferation of artists who sample, use and remake music which is no longer under copyright. The use of the internet and digital technologies have also made it possible to detect music that is in violation of copyright and intellectual property rights (Moreau, 2013). The use of artificial intelligence is slowly becoming a disruptive technology in the market and thus, it can become a screening tool that can track the usage of music from certain producers.   On the same note, the use of copyright has been watered down. Consider that there are millions of videos across social media pages that have content that has been edited from classical musician orchestras. Some content creators do not offer credits to the performers and hence, assume fair use, even when they are commercially exploiting the use of music from others.  The integration of other innovations may be the means to change this infringement of copyright (O’Dair, 2016). Take the case of blockchain technology for instance. It may have the appropriate tools that could assist in the encryption and security of the copyright in regards the sound recording and the underlying words according to O’ Dair (2016).  

Lastly, disruptive innovations have changed the overall processes in music. Traditional methods of accessing, distribution and promotion of recorded music has high barriers of entry especially those that are related to costs (Miller, Lockett & Ladd, 2018). Music houses accumulated economies of scale and thrived in a model called the star system. This approach ensured that major recording labels would use the works of smaller stars to concentrate demand on larger stars. However, solo artists in the market today have access to numerous of opportunities that allow them to be visible in the genres of music that they record. New age classical musicians use social media as an avenue for exposure, marketing and distribution of their music (Lee, 2018). Technologies such as software that record music make it easy for solo artists to launch their music from obscure devices and locations.

Christensen (1997) highlights that disruptive innovation is separate from disruptive technologies, though in some cases, they are used interchangeably. The former involves the introduction of new service or products and occurs within an industry segment, structure and social systems. For instance, recorded music through digital files has led to an increase in the use of playback devices and record companies are no longer in control of the distribution process. New artists can then make quality recordings and distribute them at a fraction of the costs (Cameron, 2016). The new digital channels of exposure are also meaningful in setting social relationships within the music sector. On the other hand, disruptive technologies are the modalities that can create disruptive innovation.

Diffusion of disruptive technologies within the music sector often leads to problems in when they are rolled out. The use of digital tools in music distribution led to numerous enterprises in the music sector to be fearful of piracy (Moreau, 2013). Again, the lower bandwidths at the time made it difficult for users to acquire digital files quickly. Similarly, in recent cases, the efforts of the Berlin Philharmonic group are largely commendable in their pioneering of a digital concert hall. Unfortunately, the required speeds in bandwidth are expensive (Oestreicher & Kuzma, 2009) and may not be available all over the globe, even under the use of the Amazon web services (McWilliam, 2019). The sheer costs may keep away group that would wish to explore this approach.  Nonetheless, over time, more evolutionary technologies and the refinement of existing modalities result in an improvement of the overall use of these technologies. In the short-term, the adoption of disruptive technologies may not be feasible, but they lead to a significant change in the operating environment.

Christensen (1997) characterizes disruptive technologies to establish some degree of value network in which businesses meet the needs of consumers. It ought to express and focus on the preferences of consumers, and thus, through their innovative process, they can establish competitiveness and the offer of value. Within the classical music market, current consumers are focusing on convenience, ease of access and reliability. The presence of a variety of classical music orchestras that are on offer through streaming services has created many substitutes that change the overall bargaining power of the consumer (Cameron, 2016).  LSO and its incumbents in the field have led to radical innovations that endear them to the consumer, and in a way lock them down.

Under these innovations, an analysis in the practice of the music recording sector indicates the presence of new market disruptions and low-end disruptions (Christensen & Raynor, 2003). The latter refers to innovations that offer convenient and affordable solutions to what was previously there (Christensen & Raynor, 2003). The use of music streaming services has led to a reduction in the cost that consumers have to pay to access music. In the past, customers had to travel for live performances of music. However, this requirement no longer exists because their devices are the new interfaces that allow that live experience of the music. The second approach on the other hand related to the introduction of innovations that bring new dimensions in performance (Moreau, 2013). The LSO for instance, through its technologies has created new approaches in the recording of music through forming motion from the music (Anderson, 2014). Consumers have an opportunity to conceptualize the music visually through bursts of color in high resolution that is under the same frequencies as the music. Musicians working with such technologies allow the consumer market to benefit by creating a trade-off between performance and cost (Christensen & Raynor, 2003).  

An analysis of the Digital Concert Hall embodies the definition that Christensen (1997) envisioned as the hall mark of disruptive innovations. The introduction of this product has resulted in the creation of a new market. Consumers who subscribe to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra can achieve an experience in recorded music like no other. The consumers accrue value due to the reduced cost of access and the overall audio and visual quality in streaming. Despite the costs involved, this technology may lead to this type of technology becoming the industry norm.  Christensen & Overdorf (2007) argue that customers who experience such service may demand of it from other performers and hence, it becomes the mainstream measure of value.

Thus, one can perceive technology use within the recording sector as a means to provide sustaining technologies. Kavanaugh (2018, p. 4) indicates that the technological innovations have has a sustaining effect on music markets. Presently, it is easy to ensure the replication of millions of copies of music from a variety of musicians at the same time. According to Waldfogel (2014), the cost of turning music metadata into 0s and 1s is low cost, and in some cases, almost new zero-costs. Music recorders can maximize their outputs via these channels. Again, one has to consider the environmental impacts of the technology. In perhaps exclusion of electronic waste, use of electricity and other related resources used in music recording and distribution, sharing music via Spotify is sustainable. It has a reduced environmental footprint as compared to vinyl and cassette disks of the past. However, the best sustainable feature of the current disposition of music is the perpetuity in the availability of music. Recorders are bound to keep their music available and encourage intergenerational music inheritance by circumventing traditional methods of music distribution, despite the limited nature of monetization (Kavanaugh, 2018, p. 5). Unlike in past culture where music could be lost or had to be in sheet music, present methods allow the transmission of the recorded music through archives that can receive updates when new music is created (Moreau, 2013).

For the recorded music, disruptive technologies have also come with numerous challenges. Under the current technologies there has been an additional fear in the security of digitized records from piracy (O'Dair, 2016). The same replication of a record that has been done by a music house can take place in illegal circles. Piracy has a near-zero pricing in the sale of music and thus, the impacts of illegal sites that allow access to music has been detrimental to sales of recorded music (Cameron, 2016).   Ideally, when the price of a good drops to reach near zero, it creates a ripple effect in the market that may precipitate a collapse. In the music sector, this collapse has often been a subject of debate (Liebowitz, 2016). Consider that millions of people have access to music via illegal channels and those who buy music may use apps to sell their music who pay miniscule amounts. Recording musicians have to move from being dependent on music sales, but rather other derivatives of the brand (Cameron, 2016). In the case study, both of the orchestral groups no longer rely on the interpretation of music from classic musicians, but they offer an experience unlike no other. Subsequently, the economic value to the customer is therefore more satisfaction in quality, churning out new music and convenience.  

Technologies also have been affective to the consumption of certain music genres. According to Kavanagh (2018), one such area is classical music. In the early 19th and 20th Century, classical music was seen as the preserve of the wealthy (Horowitz, 2005). Ideally, musicians would perform compositions in the presence of live audiences in concert halls and galleries. Over the 20th Century, middle className citizens could afford to have piano in their homes and violin lessons within schools. Sheet music became popular and overtime, music that was once the preserve of a few became part and parcel of everyday life. Classical music has redefined its relationship with the audiences by seeking for ways in which it can strike a balance between the past and the digital space (Kavanaugh, 2018).  However, with new music genres especially in the 1960-1980s, classical music lost its allure (Horowitz, 2005). It was no longer as popular; however, it was integrated into other forms of music genres. For instance, a hip-hop record will borrow from Beethoven Symphonies. The classical music thus became faceless overtime.  Many can isolate its elements, but even fewer can indicate the original composer (Havighurst, 2015).  Thus, it has been justifiably forgotten in later eras.

In the current orchestras, they aim to maintain the allure of classical music to this day. However, their performances are largely similar as each group performs classical composition. Again, this incumbent industry has had to deal with the competitiveness from the internet that has led to solo acts and small groups achieving a resounding amount of exposure (Lee, 2016). The shift towards technology is therefore a means to adapt to technology and encourage exposure of classical recorded music. Unfortunately, a significant number of the consumer market are unwilling to pay for music performances. For instance, one can watch a recording of orchestral performers on You Tube for free. Hence, the point of financial exploitation has shifted from sales at galleries to an overwhelming consumer experience (O’Dair, 2016).

To address the current problem, it would be beneficial for recorded music to focus their digital assets into traditional tools as well. For instance, live recitals and concerts promotion may lead to the revival of the sector. It is fundamental across all genres of music players to ensure its sustainability. One of the theories that would be plausible in addressing this issue is perhaps in “Who Killed Classical Music”, whereby Lebrecht (1997) argues that great performers of the past lead to an overhaul in the financial structure of classical musicians by seeking high salaries that could only be maintained by the exclusion of the common man. This tactic made classical music not attract crowds that would support it today (Lebrecht, 1997). New innovative technologies could perhaps look into assessing how to make live recitals popular in the manner in which the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra has done. The cost may be high in the short-term but the effectiveness is likely in the long-term. 

Disruptive technology therefore offers some degree of opportunity to recorders of music (Moreau, 2013). The perceptions that of its detrimental impact on incumbent businesses have led to a different opinion through these technologies. Music recorders have to evolve and work with sustainable technologies that make it possible for them to achieve greater consumer satisfaction, reduced costs and an increase in the appreciation of music (Moreau, 2013). Solo artists in fields such as opera and related classical music can become composers, recorders and promoters of music.  The offer of technology and innovation breaks the older processes of distribution in which incumbent businesses enjoyed a monopoly and levels the music production field. Additionally, technology has led to the identification of music niche groups that thrive on creating personalized relationships with the musicians that they support (Kjus and Danielson, 2016). Unlike in the past, consumers seek relatability with recording musicians.  Its achievement depends on the exploitation of social media platforms, and an increased level of engagement. This is an aspect of opportunity that incumbent businesses could also look into for sustainability towards the future.

Nonetheless, despite the positive implications of innovation and technology, there is a need to arrest the current devaluation of music. Artists are no longer able to benefit from music as they previously did due to copyright issues and a plethora of repeated music in the classical industry for instance. Musicians across the board have to compete with free. There is a hyper-supply of music. For instance, Netflix has their music cache, in addition to other apps and television subscription services (Barr, 2013). Again, when one googles for a song, they get tens of websites with the same song at a price or for free. Similarly, inter-industry jockeying of music has precipitated a convergence of music in which it exists without harmonic and rhythmic ideas (Havighurst, 2015). The versatility of music has therefore led to trends that pick for a certain time and then fade away. Music recording studios are presently unable to offer music that spans four or five decades such as Jazz and classical music (Havighurst, 2015). For instance, music has become a fad such that one record may top across various platforms and then in a number of months or years, the downloads of the music will have decreased to almost zero.  The music industry as a whole is suffering from this devaluation.

In conclusion, these challenges offer room for future innovative disruptions and technologies. The use of blockchain and artificial intelligence according to Moreau (2013) present an evaluation of the channels that can allow for increased success and the attachment of value to music and musicianship as well. Innovative disruptions may shift the music eco-system momentarily and solve problems that are problematic to the sustainability of musicians. The pace that the orchestras in this study have set is phenomenal and should be replicated. However, there is need for more support of music from a societal perspective and also through sponsorships. It is also feasible that the use of technology can act as a means to increase the overall valuation of music and eliminate the effects of challenges such as piracy. Incumbent businesses can utilize the disruptive innovation theory to isolate technological innovations to offer them increased competitiveness (Christensen, 1997).


In conclusion, this paper investigated how radical technology has transformed the recorded music industry, one of the most profitable sectors within the broader content industry. Considering the reactions of the artists and companies in the recorded music industry towards the changes in technology is a research area that needs further investigation due to the dynamic nature of the industry. However, understanding the changes that industry stakeholders had to take to remain relevant in an ecosystem that was drastically becoming digital is imperative. Numerous studies about the relationship between innovation and the recorded music industry reveal that the development of technology caused significant challenges to the industry stakeholders, most notably the musicians and recording companies.

Previous research identified some of the biggest challenges that emerged with the onset of peer-to-peer sharing technologies that crippled the sale of music recordings due to the availability of music for free online. These technologies, like Napster, caused massive losses to artists and recording companies due to the decline in demand for music recordings in the market. Witt (2015) gives an account of the piracy activities that took place over the past two decades and the effects that they had on the recorded music industry. However, they do not effectively show how the industry reacted to counter the effects of piracy. Even with nations creating copyright policies and regulations, the issue of piracy is still a menace that threatens modern music recordings.  Secondly, the question of copyright infringement is a severe problem in the recorded music industry, especially with the emergence of distribution channels that allow streaming of music like Spotify and Apple iTunes. Thirdly, the decline of the music industry’s sales caused a collapse of many intermediary recording companies that supported artists in recording, marketing, and distributing their music at a fee.

Previous research on the problem of technology and how it changed the recorded music industry discussed the issue of innovation in the recorded music industry from the perspective of demand and number of music records sold upon the emergence of disruptive technologies. Majority of their focus was on the audience and how their preferences for music consumption changed after the rise of innovations like Napster and Apple iTunes. Nonetheless, the perspective of the artists themselves and the transformations they made to remain relevant in the industry is barely investigated. Furthermore, the valuable opportunities that the technological developments presented the recorded music industry have somewhat been overshadowed by the prevalence of negative impacts, due to their catastrophic effects. Ellis-Petersen (2017) attempts to show the positive effects of music streaming sites and the adoption of digital music production to independent artists and the role that contemporary recording companies are taking to help artists sell their music online. Even so, this research has a few similar works of literature to support its arguments. This research attempts to add to this shallow pool of literature that seeks to understand the changes independent artists made and the positive aspects of technology in the music industry.

The current investigation identifies that with the decline of physical record sales, recording companies have shifted their role from that of producing and selling to that of promoting stars and independent artists. Moreover, there has emerged a new wave of independent artists that were niche driven and focused on specific genres of music. These artists include independent bands that create, record and distribute their music without the backing of major record labels. The case studies in this research reveal that technology has created many opportunities for growth and improvement for modern independent artists and bands. Innovative means to record, store, and manage music has enabled artists and bands to manage themselves better. For instance, there are scheduling systems that help managers liaise with promoters, event organisers, and international sponsors for better management of musical events. Furthermore, with assistive production technologies, independent artists and even students can create their music and efficiently perform to audiences globally. Apart from assisting in recording, the popularity of streaming sites and the potential to develop alternative streams of income from these sites has become lucrative to artists. Artists can efficiently market individual songs to millions of fans from all over the globe in a matter of minutes. Even fans that are unable to visit live performances from their favourite musicians can experience these events live from their devices over digital platforms.

Moreover, the case studies discovered that the development of digital ecosystems aided artists in reducing the costs of recording and distributing their music to their fans. Online platforms allow artists and recording companies to post hundreds if not thousands of songs in one repository for audiences to access at their convenience. Results from analysis of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra align with the arguments generated in the literature review claiming that digital platforms have improved the distribution of songs and increased the popularity of artists among global audiences. The literature review asserted that more people are willing to pay for their favourite music to become available for them from any location and at any time. This convenience, together with the ability to market on platforms like YouTube and Facebook, has facilitated success for the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra company. This study also investigated the use of other streaming sites apart from YouTube, Spotify, Apple iTunes. The other dominant site that companies and artists are using is Amazon streaming service. Moreover, apart from recording companies offering financial support to artists, other institutions like banks as well as independent donors, are offering extensive financial support to artists to facilitate sustainable delivery of quality music to audiences. These donations also allow solo artists to create, record and share their music via many platforms. The more the number of platforms that an artist can distribute their songs, the more the exposure they gain with minimal financial injection.

Previously, artists had to get support from recording companies due to the high costs of pressing disks, distributing them to stores, marketing the songs, and finally collecting returns from the sale of these disks. Conversely, the development of digital ecosystems allows artists and companies to create accounts and post up to thousands of songs for fans to access at their convenience. This tactic, together with the use of social media are some of the steps that musicians and companies in the recording music industry, took to remain relevant in a sector that drastically transformed into a digital ecosystem.

The use of secondary sources is vital as it allows the researcher to take advantage of the available opportunities to further their investigation. For instance, the diverse populations and huge data sets of literature in the topic of technology and the music industry. Even so, the use of this kind of existing data to generate new insights has its limitations. The study could not use raw data sets due to the long process of seeking permission from all the primary data collectors. This challenge also emerged due to the limited time allocated for completing the entire research which could not allow me to contact and wait for the responses of the primary data collectors. Moreover, the study did not have any external sponsorship, and considering my limited financial state as a student, I could not venture into primary data collection to back up the findings of the case studies and literature review.

Finally, considering that both disruptive and constructive innovations are still emerging, it is imperative to consider further research on the steps that artists can take to improve their financial gains. Besides, it is also prudent to consider investigating the management of artists and their online images, which is a significant issue that is arising from the use of social media as a marketing and distribution channel. Consequently, future studies could consider the impact that digital technology has on the various stakeholders in the constantly evolving digital music ecosystem. These stakeholders include musicians, music consumers, record label executives, and, more recently, technology companies like Apple and Google who are playing a bigger role in the music content industry. A particularly interesting research domain that warrants further attention is the recent capture of the music content market by technology companies. Specifically, the issue of agency and intermediaries within the digital media ecosystem; who will control music content production, distribution, and consumption as the twenty-first century progresses? 


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