Ever since the record industry came into existence over a century ago, they have always fought against technology and other entities for protection of an artist's works and rights. But since the development of the Internet and P2P networking, record industries have been fighting for laws to be amended to outlaw such programs such as Napster. However, lately all that we've been seeing is how the record industry is in a deep hole and how we're all criminals for downloading music. This article is showing the other side of that story. But to begin, a little history as to why:
Music records first came out in 1894, when Emile Berliner invented the gramophone. Along with it, he created records to go with it. The first records produced were of Enrico Caruso who sold 5 million copies. Rico was also signed under one of the first record companies called Victor Company. This event could be marked as the birth of the record industry. Hence starting with over a century of history, it's not a wonder how they eventually amassed so much power. Eventually, becoming a special interest group.
Due to the fact, copyright laws regarding audio works were still being established at the time, many of the laws were not very well established. But making it worse in 1902, U.S. Congress authorized the 600 radio stations.
Radio stations like today's Internet, provided free music, which really scared the record industry. Therefore in retaliation, the record industry attached the disclaimer on every disk saying warning, under penalty of law, copying or distributing thisetc,etc. But as we all know, radio stations completely disregarded the label and still continued to play the records. But, Why didn't the record industry bother to lift one legal finger to stop them? In a reverse effect, the creation of the radio allowed huge exposure to the public. The record industry eventually sold much more records than before, thanks to the radio. In the end, Congress eventually made it law that all radio stations must pay royalties to the Copyright Office which then distributed them to the labels. Therefore, closing the radio vs. record industry chapter.
As the music industry continued to grow, many entrepreneurs tried to join the major label bandwagon hoping to cash it in big time. By 1961, there were 181 major record labels distributing music. Yet today, there are only about six major record labels and very soon to be only three. What happened? Simple. The major record labels over time became greedy, only signing the artists that are commercially viable and appealing to a mass public. This meant, that people such as Barry Gordy, an African American artist, during the 1950's wouldn't be signed due to the color of his skin. Yet, he went on to creating Motown Records, a prominent rhythm & blues (RN'B) label still existing today. However, they didn't miss Elvis. This created the first crossover artist - artists that made music originally not marketable, now commercially viable. A prime example of this today, is rapper, Eminem.
With independent record labels or sub-cultures quickly rising out of obscurity, the record industry began losing a lot of money. The sub-culture has started many of the great music epochs including the Village People starting disco, The Police starting punk rock and Nirvana starting grunge. All of which, the major labels rejected and said it would be a fad that would only last six months and no more. However, that wasn't the case in 1981 when Sylvia Robertson first discovered rap in New York City and started Sugar Hill Records. Due to the major labels constantly missing rising artists (and they still are), major amounts of money were lost and labels went into bankruptcy.
However as the music grew so did technology with it. As the invention of the tape recorder came out, the record industry once again were afraid of losing money. Congress being pressured by the record industry, once again tried to amend this by passing an act declaring all persons were only allowed to make one back up copy for private use. Nonetheless, the tape recording concept didn't catch on and the record industry was safe again. At least from having their music protected.
However in 1995, with the introduction of the Internet and P2P networking this sent the industry into a huge panic. Programs such as Napster and technology like the Rio mp3 player made music available to the public, except this time becoming popular on a global level. So the battle ensued. In 2000, the RIAA (Record Industry Associations of America) filed suit against Rio mp3 player saying they allowed mp3s to be transferred person to person without buying the music. Obviously they lost, as the judge Rio classified Rio to be a computer. In the same year, Napster was also sued by A&A records, which said it was allowing users to download music without paying. Napster lost, as it had a database on its site available for users to download the music. This constituted as infringement, and therefore eventually had to be closed down. Although programs such as Kazaa, Limewire and Morpheus cannot be sued because they claim they're just a network transferring other important softwares and freewares besides mp3s.
Today, the Internet has reached a global level with people everywhere able to share and download music. The record industry however still continues to fight an uphill battle against the Internet. The industry has now begun to sue remote individuals in a futile attempt to deter others from using the Internet to download music. However, with a global village it becomes an almost impossible task. Suffice to say, music is not in a terribly bad place right now. Only the major labels. By constantly missing goldmines such as Nirvana and other sub-culture musicians, it's not a wonder why they say music is in a bad place. I personally stand impartial to this issue, however as an artist I'd still prefer for people to buy my music. Just not at a disgustingly high price. Sadly, the music industry has now become a cartel fighting to control what it can't, with artists as the spectators. There are few solutions to this, and this maybe one battle the record industry isn't going to win.