This is the main disadvantage of the Internet’s affects on the Music Industry. Bands, record companies and music shops are all suffering from this new craze to download or ‘share’ music files across the Internet. The common misconseption is that the music is on the Internet, but most people get music from Peer-to-Peer programs (P2P). This means that people can share their music with the rest of the world. Users then search for the music they want and download it.
Although Napster has now been reduced to a subscription based service, the main program that is used with Internet piracy is Kazaa. Not only can you download music using this program, but you can also download videos, pictures and software through the new
Broadband services available to the public. Broadband is up to ten times faster than a normal Internet connection.
As you can see from above, you can find hundreds of files to download, some with a download time of only 32 seconds for one whole song. If I can draw your attention to the magnified section of the picture, you can see there was over 3 million users sharing their files at that point in time. This is the reality of the Internet; people download albums instead of buying them, which severely damages the music industry.
However, before the invention of file sharing programs, and before Windows 98, the Music Industry was beginning to be helped by the Internet
Music Companies were the first to capitalise on the new medium to advertise their company. Record companies such as EMI and Sony set up websites that advertised their corporate image and focused little on product promotion. However, with the release of Windows 98, web pages could be viewed in a secure form, where no one else but you could view the web page. (See left) Once consumers had been convinced that their credit card numbers and their personal details could not be ‘hacked’, the Internet was revolutionised.
The most famous companies to capitalise on this technology are Amazon.com and CDNow. Both offer services where the consumer buys the product from the website, and then the product is delivered to the consumers doorstep. The choice is overwhelming, with the consumer not only having the luxury of purchasing from home, but they also have a huge choice of products which are not available at their local record store.
Here is an example of a rare Judas Priest import which is difficult to find here in the U.K. However, you simply need to type in your details and depending on how you have it shipped; you can have it the next day.
This is both an advantage and a disadvantage for the Music Industry. It is positive for the consumers and the artists, because their material is easy to buy. Conversely, it is a disadvantage for music stores because people will simply stay at home and buy music.
Bands have a lot to gain from the Internet. They can promote their band by making a website full of details, pictures, news and event dates, and even samples of the band’s music. This draws larger audiences for bands and they can also be ‘discovered’ by record companies who have seen their website. A further advantage is that bands can save money while controlling their CD sales. A band can record their own music in a studio and then distribute it themselves, therefore cutting out the publishing costs.
Finally, to the present day, where connection speeds to the Internet are rising, and the number of people sharing music is soaring. How will the Music Industry survive? Microsoft could hold the key. It is rumoured that the next version of Windows will only play media that has been created on your computer, stopping the file sharing craze dead in its tracks. Is it true? Only time will tell.