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The development of the music industry first began in the mid-late
18th century, when composers such as Mozart started to look for new
more effective ways of marketing their music and performances.
Selling manuscripts, writing autobiographies and performing
memorial concerts provided the commercial opportunities these
musical artists and composers needed to gain publicity. Soon sheet
music sales dominated the industry, rising alongside ‘Blackface
Minstrelsy’, a racist form of make-up used by white people to portray
the black community in the 19 th century.
The ‘Record’ Industry
Music was first recorded in the late 1880’s followed by the creation of
radio broadcasting in the 1920’s. Although this progression allowed
music to be enjoyed by many more people and allowed more obscure
artists to be appreciated live music was still incredibly popular.
However, with the availability of recorded music, the sales of sheet
music massively decreased, being overtaken by the record industry.
In the 21st century the digital distribution of music became very popular
proving to be a relatively hassle free method of downloading music almost
anywhere. However, with this rise in popularity for digital downloads, sales
of recorded music on CDs, vinyl and cassettes have fallen dramatically.
The distribution of music digitally has also resulted in a rise of illegal file
sharing. The widespread illegal download of music of the internet caused
revenues within the music industry to fall even further. As a result many
companies have been forced to take legal action against the websites
allowing the illegal download of music.
By including a free gift of a CD or limited material from a related band in my
magazine, it could appeal to the audience as it would be free and easy for
them to access without the need of finding it online and then downloading
The modern day music industry and coinciding record labels can be broken
down into subcategories that all contribute towards the production of music:
Record labels are all smaller organisations within the ‘parent’ record company. Record
companies have the ability to reflect as many different genres as they would like to
through the artists that they choose to support. This means they can use the most popular
genres to create a larger profit and follow the changing trends in genre popularity. The
main record companies that dominate the modern day music industry include Universal
Music, Sony/BMG, EMI and Warner Music.
Independent (Indie) Music
Independent record labels make up only a small percentage of the music
market and reflect the artists that don’t have funding of the larger music
corporations. This independence provided outside the funding of a major
corporation allows the artist to have more freedom in what music they
However, some record labels, although appearing to be independent, are in
fact a vanity label (a label within an existing record company that is owned
by a famous artist) or even a subsidiary of a major record company. This can
prove to be an advantage for the artists as they will appear to be outside the
intervention of the larger music companies, which can be a selling point to
some music fans.
Vanity labels receive funding through affiliation with the famous artist
responsible for the record label as well as the creative control and
uniqueness the vanity label provides the artist with.
Distribution and Marketing
The Internet can be used to sell traditional physical formats (Amazon), to market
music recordings (social network sites), to present netcasts and live performances
(video websites, YouTube), to sell music downloads (iTunes, net labels), to create
official websites for artists and recording companies; these official websites can
keep its viewers up-to-date with events, promotions and the opportunity for fans
to connect through chat rooms, forums and blogs.
Radio can promote an artist through frequent airplay and exposure on the official
downloads chart, launched in 2004.
Television has music channels such as MTV and 4Music promotes both the image
and sound of an artist. This form of distribution is especially effective for artists
with a unique selling point related to their image (Lady GaGa).
The Music Press are very influential in the marketing and promotions of new artists
due to their close relationship with the music industry.
The way these methods of distribution aid and connect with the music industry is
known as synergy and is effective in drawing in a larger audience and strengthens
Adorno built his theory about culture industries around Marxist principles that by
offering audiences generic products and consumer goods can maintain capitalism
by diverting the publics attention from politics. The products produced by culture
industries can be divided into formulaic, simplistic and emotive and were pseudoindividualistic. (aren’t as unique as they are presented to be).
Peterson and Berger identified that historically popular music came from resistance
to dominant ideologies and values and provided a creative outlet for people.
However, music is considered to lose its authenticity when it becomes
commercialised and commercialised music is non-resistant to ideologies.
Music industries are primarily concerned with generating profit and therefore
choose to invest in musical forms that will offer as little resistance to present to the
mainstream audience. If the format is successful it will be replicated and resold. As a
result the audience relies on the media for information and loses the creative
element they supposedly crave. In addition they don’t have access to all the musical
choices available because the industry will only invest in music that has proven to be
Alternative Rock Genre
The genre I have decided to focus on in my music magazine is the
Alternative Rock genre. This is the category I feel I know most about
as it is my most listened to genre.
The alternative rock genre emerged from independent music in the
1980s. The distorted guitar sounds and transgressive lyrics and a
usually defiant attitude all combine to create a distinction from
mainstream rock. Alternative bands commercial success is limited in
comparison with other similar genres due to the fact that most of the
bands within this genre are signed to independent labels and
received little attention from large mainstream radios, television
channels and newspapers.