Cultura digital, sociedade e política


The Impact of Technology on the Music Industry

The music industry has come a long way since those days of the mono recordings. Before the music industry was simple. An artist would record a song on vinyl, cd, or tape and then the public would go to the store and purchase the album. Now, the music is stored in the cloud. You can see the music videos through YouTube, stream it through Spotify, or purchase it from iTunes. On top of that, all of this can be done through the home computer, phone, or the tablet, even in a car. The music industry nowadays is comprised of individuals who compose and perform music that work with huge label companies who in turn sell these music labels to the public. This whole business was worth around 168 billion dollars in 2013.

Back then, artists, producers, and engineers didn’t have as much of a choice of what equipment that would use to get their recordings done. With the advancement in technology and new innovations constantly being created in the music industry, the opportunities are endless. If you look up the definition of technology you will see the words industry and commerce, which just means growth and development. Technology has and will continue to influence growth and development in the music industry.

With the growth of technology, the technical end of producing and engineering has become somewhat a quicker task. For example, the introduction of system real time messages synchronized drum machines, sequences and other rhythmic devices. System real time messages are dropped into the data stream as required, and have priority over other messages in order to mainstream synchronization at all times. Other advances in technology have allowed these devices to operate with timing clocks so everything does not have to be done completely be hand anymore. As music production and recording systems become more complex and sophisticated, the need for intuitive, easy to use controls over then became essential if they are to be used effectively. In many ways, technology has improved the sound quality of the music that we hear, due to the advent of digital sound, and also advancements made for live performance. Music producers are now able to create more special effects on tracts.

Music Technology

However, many “performers” have become reliant on technology, and there are a lot of artists who now lip synch to all the songs when they perform “live”. This is a negative impact, because often it means that people actually need less talent to succeed in the business than they needed 20 or 30 years ago.

Technology also gave birth to the music video. The artist would create an image that would form an identity for fans to relate to. The result resuming to more and more profits for the artist and the record label companies. Similarly, more effects are now possible and there is an overall superior quality, which is getting increasingly better as more new and updated technology comes along.

Youtube’s Effect on Music

Technology has affected the music industry in both a positive and a negative way. The positive impact includes buying one song now, not the entire album if the fan prefers not to; the public has immediate access anywhere at anytime; and the public can also find exclusive tracks (like live performances) that are not available on regular albums. And, of course, technology has created overnight celebrities and will continue to do so.

Negatively, while technology allows music to be distributed all over the world at the touch of a button and enables artists to advertise on an unprecedented scale it also allows music to be pirated illegally anywhere, anytime. There has been a loss of profit due to illegal downloading. In 2012, 40 billion downloads were illegal, which was almost 90% of all the downloaded music ( Additionally, artists may be judged on the video rather than their artistic abilities. And lastly, the purity of the music may be compromised due to the use of software to enhance the artist’s voice.

Music Piracy of 2012

The world has changed so much from a technological standpoint over the last years. And the way that’s affected music and content industries in general has been huge. But the world changes and the music industry must keep up with it. Artists starting out now have it a lot harder because there are so many choices to be made. “(As) novas ferramentas possibilitam uma oportunidade de criar novas culturas de compartilhamento e apenas nessas culturas (as) capacidades de compartilar terão o valor que podem ter.” (Shirky, 2011:129) But they have those choices and they can decide how much emphasis they are going to put on certain aspects.

The goal when artists start out now is exactly how it was when artists were starting out back then: to grow. To make great music, have a career, have a following, build a fan base, spreading popularity, etc. “Todos os tipos de imagens, musicas, textos, mundos virtuais se entrecruzam ai, em linguas cada vez mais numerosas e nas direções do espírito cada vez mais divergentes.” (Lemos e Levy, 2010:205) The bottom line is that technology is here to stay and the music industry should embrace it rather than fight it. At the end of the day, the only true musical experience is a live performance.




“Infographic: United States Top Music Piracy Ranking.” Statista Infographics. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 June 2014.

Lemos, André; Levy, Pierre. “O espaço virtual da cultura”. O futuro da internet. São Paulo, Paulus, 2010, pp. 115-155, 101-220.

“Music Technology BTEC Subsidiary Diploma.” - St. Wilfrid’s Catholic 6th Form College. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2014.

Shirky, Clay. “Cultura”. A cultura da participação: criatividade e generosidade no mundo conectado. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 2011, pp. 119-143

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