For as long as it has been possible to record music, there have been record companies. Throughout most of the last century, when music was recorded, it was done so by such a company. The artists would sign, often exclusive, recording contracts and their recordings would be mastered, produced and sold by the company. As is now widely known, these were not always the best deals for the artists. The companies would take huge percentages of the money earned from record sales, not to mention the ownership rights they often obtained over the material recorded. Nonetheless, before the days of internet and music downloading, this was the most likely way for a performing artist to be successful.
Today, not much has changed between record companies and their signed artists. The contracts almost completely favor the companies. If one is a pop star whose records are constantly going multi-platinum, this is not so much an issue. The money coming in is so great that it hardly matters what percentage the record company takes. Unfortunately, for less mainstream artists, it is nearly impossible to see any returns for one's work if signed with a record label. With the development of the internet and the potential for music downloading, some artists have discovered new potential for self-managing, production and selling their material.
On the other hand, there is of course the potential for the artist to lose even more money, as music is so freely available for illegal downloading. However, the exact magnitude of the loss experienced by the industry seems to be in dispute. Some claiming that the record companies and artists are losing so much to illegal downloading as to nearly put them out of business, where others argue that illegal downloading has had no real effect on the number of record sales. Whichever the case, the record companies current strategy seems to involve going after music pirates as harshly as possible, filing huge lawsuits whenever they can prove an instance of illegal downloading.
Recurrent posts will explore the changing nature of the music industry; specifically how production and distribution mediums are changing. I will analyze the issue both from the perspectives of the artists and the industry. Hopefully, through my research I will gain some interesting insight on the latest trends emerging in the music business.