The music industry has come a long way since the phonograph, (which eventually became the record player), was invented in 1877. We’ve gone from giant machines carrying single, recorded tracks, to carrying tens of millions of songs in our pocket.
On that journey, the music industry has shifted massively as new technology arrived. We’ve seen tape players and boomboxes come by, then to walkmans and discmans.
But undoubtedly, there’s one company who changed the music industry more than anyone, and that’s Apple, with the introduction of both the iPod in 2001 and the iTunes store in 2003.
Online Music Piracy
In the early 2000’s the music industry was in complete and utter fear of online music piracy. By the end of 2002 it had successfully sued the file-sharing service, Napster into the ground, but this brought on more enemies that had learned from their fallen brother and were harder to kill – the likes of Limewire and BitTorrent began to take over.
While the record industry thought that the piracy problem could be solved by locking down the CD’s and their files with DRM, Apple saw that it was clear that what people wanted was a to be able to download songs cheaply and easily and at the time there was no other way to do this.
iTunes Was Born
On the 28th of April 2003, Apple launched iTunes and the world was forever changed. It has redefined how people buy music and the way not only music, but all digital media is consumed.
It took only one week for iTunes to sell one million songs, and not long after, it became the top music retailer – beating both online and physical retail stores.
In 2016, iTunes is still the biggest retailer of music in the world, with over 30 billion songs sold since it was released. The Australian Bureau of Statistics still puts music as one of the most popular things Australians buy on the internet, although this is changing more from individual song downloads to music streaming services.
The Switch To Streaming Music
These streaming music services, such as Spotify and Apple Music, offer users an ‘all they can eat’ library of music for around $10 every month.
While these streaming services are gaining significant popularity, with Roy Morgan believing 20% of Australians use one to listen to their music, piracy is still a problem in Australia and across the world.
Piracy Is Still A Problem
The problem has become so bad that the Australian government last year passed a bill to allow the blocking of websites which are deemed to exist solely for the purpose of illegal downloading.
Australian music artists have been very vocal about this, with the likes of David Greene from the Potbelleez saying that without proper copyright laws you might as well be “kissing the money goodbye and our career with it.” Tina Arena also announced her support for the program, claiming that pirating websites are “too easy to access”.
The music industry is scrambling to find a solution, with revenue from music nowhere near the levels it once experienced before the internet. Some form of music streaming is believed to be the right direction, with some investors in record label Universal, even believing that wider streaming adoption will double the revenue of the industry by 2020. This adoption of streaming in 2020 will also likely signify the end of the iPod and other dedicated music players, ending their slow decline into irrelevance.
Virtual Reality: Watch This Space
Virtual reality will also have a huge impact on the live music industry, with bands and artists in the future selling tickets to “virtual concerts” where people can view it live over the internet with a virtual reality headset from their living room, as if they were actually there. You’ll never need to worry about missing out on tickets to your favourite band again.
Last modified: November 17, 2016