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21, May 2022
The Powers That Be – Is the Music Industry Buying The Music?

Many people give the music industry, which includes several record labels, a bad rap. They don’t force children to listen to negative music they sell. We all have the freedom to choose. They are guilty of flooding the market with the same music and making it difficult for people to hear music that is not in their profit margin. You won’t buy what you don’t see. This has been the norm for the music industry since its inception. However, their profits are declining due to online music sites that offer an extensive music library. Not only do they have a lot of familiar artists, but also new artists who have yet to make it big. Music labels are known for making sure music that promotes their interests is played on radio stations. What kind of deals do they make with music labels? Is this payola? It’s not clear – it is up to a legal mind. It is clear that certain music selections only are available on the radio. We listen to and buy the same song or a different artist, just as the music labels tell us.

The Pimp Factor

Recording labels are known to sign contracts with artists in order to own their music rights. Then they refuse to promote it. To be able to control the music you and I hear on, and to keep the type of music they wish to promote at the forefront. This would be called “pimping” in any other arena. Although this may sound harsh, what exactly is a Pimp? EduQna explains what pimping my ride means. The explanation is pretty simple. “Pimp my Ride” refers to the modification of (something), often in a very impractical, but flashy manner (think pimp-like). (making) modifications, etc. (something is) altered to make it appear (something other than real). EduQna is a great artist. Recording labels should wear the word if it fits. Many artists feel “pimped out” by the contracts they sign to get into the industry. While the signing may seem innocent, the contract’s wording is designed to give control over the music and the artist creating it.

Music industry is seriously shooting itself in its own foot by not joining online music sites that both can profit. In its efforts to control the music industry, it is missing a huge opportunity to sell more music to the target audience of 13-18 year olds. These listeners are becoming more sophisticated and, with their internet and computer skills, they “hack” into an online music market that the mainstream music industry cannot touch – Online Streaming Music.

Gentle Down the (Music)

Shawn Fanning, an 18 year old college dropout, revolutionized music exchange with his file-sharing software Napster. He had an idea, but not the 60 hours it took to code it. His program allowed computers to swap and share files, including music, via a central file server. To address the problems of downloading and finding music online, he stayed awake for 60 hours to write the source code. This program combined a music-search function and a file-sharing system. It also included instant messaging to facilitate communication. Napster was born. Shawn was rewarded for his genius. Are you kidding? Napster was sued by the Recording Industry Association of America for tributary copyright violation. This means that Napster was not accused of copyright infringement but of helping to facilitate other people’s copyright infringement. Napster claimed that Napster was not illegally acting because the files were never in Napster’s possession but instead transferred from user to use. P2P applications (Peer to Peer), are based on the assumption that Napster is guilty in copyright infringement. If Napster is guilty, then Napster’s consumers are also guilty. If the consumers aren’t guilty, how can Napster be held accountable?

Shawn, his small company with 50 employees, was facing media giants such as Sony, Universal and BMG. The music industry didn’t realize that regardless of the outcome of Napster’s lawsuit, Napster had opened up a window of opportunity on the Internet. More companies would and did emerge over time. The site was eventually shut down after a lengthy legal battle. It would resurface as a popular online music service years later after Roxio bought it. There are now thousands of websites worldwide that have taken Shawn’s idea and improved it. They also offer quality music online through “streaming”, which is a method that allows them to provide high-quality music to their customers. Streaming is a general term used in the computer industry. It simply means that data can be transferred immediately without the need to download the entire song. You can stream audio (music) or video (that’s a topic for another article) with high quality results.

Apple Computers is one of the most well-known providers of streaming audio or video. Apple Computers created I-Tunes to allow customers to purchase songs and complete albums from a vast library. I-Tunes, along with other streaming music companies, have formed partnerships with artists and music labels through licensing agreements. With the I-Phone becoming more popular, anyone can access any number of “streams” or media players.

Despite technological advancements in this area, megalomania persists. Record labels and companies that have not partnered with streaming music companies or digital music companies still exist. Why? Control – The music companies want to control the majority of music and artists that you listen too.

Where is the “Buck?” Stop

The majority of record labels in the music industry still hold around 75% of the most famous recordings worldwide. All streaming music companies are looking for new media to market their customers. The recording labels offer licensing agreements that would allow for wider distribution of legal music download and streaming. This is without the need for a license for each song. Companies can now be sued after the Napster controversy has led to successful ligation. If a record label refuses to license a song or record, it cannot be made available online for consumers to listen to or buy. It is because of this that you can’t find the songs or artists you love on streaming music websites. This is because major record labels have not yet agreed to license these sites for their music. Who is the victim? Everyone. The music label is hurt, as are we, the consumers, and artists. Artists lose out on the chance to be heard on one of the most important media networks in the world, the internet. Although money is a factor, it is more about control than anything else. Fear of losing it has driven many people to make poor decisions, unfortunately, music labels are no exception.

Until major record labels smell the MP3, and artists insist on contracts that include the right to sell their product via other media OR artists can peddle their music online, as many artists are doing, our ability increase our music library will be limited. Technology is available, but music is being held captive. The ransom is a purchase of a CD in cellophane. Every year there are thousands of new artists, offering new and exciting music from every genre. Hopefully these artists will partner with record labels that actually live in the 21st Century and form a strong partnership to distribute their music online.

In conclusion, I think Gangsta Rap did something positive in one instance, and gave a line that fits the situation in a limited way – until we “fight to the powers that be”in music, we will have to continue listening to the same song, but with a different beat, over and over.