Record Industry Vs. Internet

Ever since the record industry came into existence over a century ago, they have always fought against technology.

Ultimate Guitar

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.

37 comments sorted by best / new / date

    um...i didnt really read your article...because im in computer class now and i have history 4th period...i'll wait til then to get my history lesson for that day...but ne way music download is the shit...if your in a band and you make it and your gettin much publicity and you are able to make a living solely from the music your write...then who gives a shit if people are downloading your music
    overall i liked the article, personally pirating music is always black and white, some artists think it's awesome that people trade music and come to their shows and support then, more than likely a majority of people if they love a band enough they'll buy a live dvd when it comes out or something, or buy a t-shirt that's where the money is
    Registered specifically to comment on this brilliant article! Bands really aren't bothered about music downloading (in fact it's a godsend to them!), it's the record companies that lose money from P2P etc. The bands that do say they are bothered are the ones who are controlled by their record company to the extent that they will be punished if they attempt to promote music downloading (which is a sorry state to be in and totally against the concept of producing music). However, I do believe that we gotta continue buying albums, simply because the best bands will be dropped from their labels if they don't shift enough units (which is the disgusting way that record companies work). So keep downloading, just don't become fully dependant on it!
    That will teach them to make their own record companies. If they can afford to buy things for a show, then they can afford a cheap recording kit that makes them sound half good.
    Well, if the record industries have such a problem with the internet and people downloading, maybe they could just lower the ridiculous CD prices. that way people get the music, minus potential computer viruses. Keep downloading people.
    Great Article Im just a little late on this, but i understand it when higher priced musicians such as metallica dont want to lose their money, but didnt they start out as a struggling band? trying to get their name out there? i mean, the internet is what everyone wants, its the most used tool of the century, and if you have a band and can get your name on the net, more and mroe people start to download and eventually your band gets well known, which makes it easier to get signed,so for band such as metallica and others who get mad, im pretty sure it was metallica throwing bootlegs out at their early concerts, maybe the big artists should stop and think about how hard it was, and the R.I.A.A obviosully can't think about anything else but to cover their own ass. It gets pretty bad when you start alienating 12 and 14 year olds, to make your extra money doesn't it??? Like i said, i understand where the big artists are comming from, but maybe they should stop and think, and wonder how much faster they could have had their fame and fortune.. and maybe about the struggling that artists do early on... by the way, how much does it truly cost to make a cd??? cuz at $13-$16 a pop, they are makin one hell of a fortune....
    ShoeLaces907 regards to Village People staring disco, The Police staring punk, Nirvana started grunge...etc... Those are all ridiculous statements BUT they are ones that the major record companies would want you to believe. As far as most major labels are concerned, there was no grunge before Nirvana, there was no punk before The Police (who really aren't the band I'd think of when the word "punk rock" is mentioned), and ditto with the Village people. It wasn't that they started it...hardly.It was simply that they were the most comercially viable of their respective genres and therefore the ones that the record companies made the most important. If you ask me, the best stuff of any genre or style of music came around before the record companies decided to ram it down the throats of the populace. The innovators were the ones who honed the sound while it was still new and exciting, while the ones who made the most people off of it were the ones who brought it to comercial prominence. Arguably, once something becomes a huge trend, it loses it's soul. That's why The Clash and The Stooges will always be better than The Police, why The Replacements and Mudhoney will always be better than Nirvana, etc...but that's just one music listener's opinion. The popularity of Nirvana, The Police, and The Village Boys (even to this day) speaks for itself. Getting onto the ACTUAL subject, I think file sharing is a good thing. Personally, I hate the ***s who download 200 or so CDs worth of material without ever buying anything (partially because it shows their lack of a serious social life), but I think it's horrible that so many have bought so many horrid CDs for just one song. The record companies and the horrible bands they push got themselves into this and obviously they should be made to work hard out of it. Mainstream music has been crap for a good decade now (although it's showing some improvement) and file sharing is just a consequence of it. As for me, I have downloaded whole albums in the past but only from bands who a) I didn't think were good enough to spend money on and b) bands who were ungodly rich and didn't need my $18 anyway.
    Very nice article. I learned a lot, and you make several good points, like the fact that before file-sharing, their were other ways to get free music. A couple of things though, you failed to mention bootleg LP's, albums, whatever. People made bootlegs of concerts with records. One more thing, while the Police didn't hurt punk, I have never heard them refered to as, or thought of them as a punk band. The creation of punk, in my opinion, should be credited to the Sex Pistols, The Ramones, The Clash (sorry if I left out your favorite band). Then bands like Sublime, Presidents of the USA, and Less than Jake, carried on the Torch. Promptly, Blink 182, good charollette, and groups like thrice, sugarcult, and newfoundglory dragged it through the mud. too bad.
    KICKASS article it's sad that we live in a age where people just concentrate on how we get music instead of just the music period. I mean downloading is alright by me as long as you support the artist if you like the album.
    0blue skies0
    people now a days appreciate the music more - caring less about cd covers. i got led zeps ENTIRE album collection for 3dollars (NO KIDDING) over the net. wish the site hadnt seduced me. i feel kinda bad.
    if the record industry hadnt made CDs between $20-$30 dollars this wouldnt be such a problem. I hope the RIAA burns in hell.
    If ***ing records were ***ing cheaper then the ***ing companies will ***ing sell more ***ing records.
    "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." See a pattern availability? I sure know, for 100%, if it wasnt for kazaa and other P2P software, I would be incredibly less interested in music. Thanks to P2P you may not be selling CDs, but your making a fan base! Ya cant download the intensity of seeing Kirk pull off a solo live, or download that buzz in your ear after standing 10 inches from the stage, being mashed between 300 pound guys just to make eye contact with your musical idol.
    just some guy
    This is a very good article. the thing is, piracy won't stop, no matter how hard everyone tries. It's not like some one gets killed everytime you download a song. It's just money. And online music sharing has gotten me into Nine Inch Nails and Blink 182, and i'll most likely be buying thre Cheschire Cat album soon, so it helps spread information.
    chaz man
    Liked the article. I hope the record industry doesn't win. It would be interesting to see what happens. And if CDs were cheaper more people would buy them. The record companies must kick themselves in the ass alot as they always seem to miss the goldmines. They should take a chance once in a while.
    chaz man
    Oh yeah, the real money is in the concerts anyways. Artists don't make a whole lot of money from the CDs.
    Right... well downloading has its good and bad things. Ever since Napster started the whole shit cd prices hace gone thorugh the roof. Sure it does have good thing like the fact that small bands can get recognized but still i think the best option or the one that is most fair to the public and the artist who put teir souls and time into their "WORK" are thing like etc. although i think song should be 70 cents and not 99 (Although i think great songs are worth millions of dollars. How can we put a price on sgt peppers, dark side, and justice for all or the wall) IT WIL BE A NEVER ENDING DEBATE
    The police didn't start punk and nirvana didn't start damn grunge, but it is pretty good article, get your shit straight though
    i think any band who whines about losing money from downloading has lost the whole reason why they started playing in the first place and should be glad people want to hear it. :cough metallica: and yes most bands make most of their money from concerts. id buy 20 cds every month if they werent so darn greedy. 5$ is reasonable, so i buy compalations that have 30 songs for the price of 4 normal cds. stick it to the man. unless we stop buying theyre crappy prices, they will continue to rise.
    Alright, he didnt write his article to argue who started what genre, im sure you could go on for hours saying this person started punk rock, this person started grunge, and nobody would agree because people have all sorts of different opinions. Anywho, he made many great general points that im sure millions of people would agree with, but the only way for any of them to work is for everyone to band together and boycott the RIAA. The stupidest thing the RIAA could do is sue its own customers.
    apparantly since the introduction of p2p software the music industry has apparantly earned over 2 billion dollars more then there usual 5 billion dollar mark per year. The reasons why record companies sue is because Singles arent selling as so they have a case, but albums have been doing far better. I personally think p2p is great for the music industry as it stops the rush of 1 hit wonder bands. Thats why the record companies are pissed too, they actually have to find bands with talent now.
    Cd are advertisments for shows to me. or if i feel to take music with me
    Pearl Jam didnt start grunge, and it wasnt Nirvana either it was the Melvins
    Grunge isn't a musical style, it's a movement, that was started in Seattle. And I don't think The Police are punk, and the Village People definitely didn't start disco. Other than that crap though, a pretty good article.
    Yeah this was a kick ass article, lots of good information, but the police didn't start punk rock