Music Industry And The Internet Essay, Research Paper
Music has for a long time been a big part of American traditions and pastimes. But many don’t really know what goes into the making of the songs, besides the lyrics and the music. Most of the public puts little thought into how a Cd is really produced, shipped, and presented to the public, or about the costs of producing a record compared to the profits made by corporations. Technology also plays an important role in music, and makes it easily available to everyone around the world. But does it effect us? Should we have to care how a record company is run? Yes, in many ways it can, and does. Prices and advertising have strong effects on the demand to purchase goods. (Chapple, 238) It can effect the purchaser, and the seller in many ways, and there are positive and negative effects to this system.In the early days, music was just as competitive as today, in all aspects. As technology grew, so did everyones spirits to come out with the “next-best thing”. According to MediaHistory.com, here is a timeline of a few advances made in music:1877 – Edison made the first recording of a human voice (”Mary had a little lamb”) on the first tinfoil cylinder phonograph.1878- Edison granted patent 200,521 on Feb. 19 for a phonograph using cylinders wrapped with tin foil with 2-3 min. capacity 1881 – Charles Tainter at the Volta Lab made the first lateral-cut records, but without any practical machine to play them back. 1885 – A second type of phonograph was invented by Chichester Bell and Charles Tainter; they were granted patent 341,214 on a machine that they called the “Graphophone” using wax-coated cylinders incised with vertical-cut grooves.1888 – Emile Berliner demonstrated an improved gramophone May 16 at the Franklin Institute using a flat 7-inch disk with lateral-cut grooves on one side only, manually rotated at 30 rpm with 2-min. capacity; Berliner is the first to mass-produce hard rubber vulcanite copies from zinc master disk. 1890 – The first “juke box” was the coin-operated cylinder phonograph with 4 listening tubes that earned over $1000 in its first 6 months of operation starting the previous November 23 in San Francisco’s Palais Royal Saloon, setting off a boom in popularity for commercial nickel phonographs that kept the industry alive during the Depression Nineties.1894 – in December, Guglielmo Marconi made radio history when at the age of 20 he invented his spark transmitter with antenna at his home in Bologna, Italy. He took his “Black Box” to Britain in Feb. 1896 and although it was broken by custom officials, he filed for British Patent number 12039 on June 2, 1896, and began to build a world empire of Marconi companies.1898 – Valdemar Poulsen patented in Denmark on Dec. 1 the first magnetic recorder, called the “telegraphone,” using steel wire; he exhibited his device at the Paris Exposition in 1900 and formed the American Telegraphone Co. in Nov. 1903 after Congress validated his American patent 661,619. 1906 – Columbia announced in July the Velvet-Tone thin and flexible laminated shellac record with paper core, following the proposal of Marconi who had visited the Bridgeport plant of the American Graphophone Company. This record had less surface noise than regular shellac records. 1911 – Edwin S. Pridham and Peter L. Jensen in Napa, California, invented a moving-coil loudspeaker they called the “Magnavox” that was used by Woodrow Wilson in San Diego in 1919. 1914 – ASCAP founded to enforce 1909 Copyright Act. Today, the music business is still run the same way, with profits in mind. One main way music is seen by the public is the internet. Either by shopping or downloading, music can be brought to the homes of anyone with a computer. Quickly, music of any sort can be downloaded, often for free. This is done by technologies that make it possible to change sound into digital formats that are easily saved in computer files. This is done by compressing files to about one-tenth of their regular size. Later these are used to create the MPEG 1-Audio Layer 3 format, or the MP3. These are then downloaded off the web onto personal computers. Since they now take up so little space, these songs are easily transmited over the internet and, in turn, can then be “burned onto compact discs, or broadcasts on Internet-based radio stations.” Music can even be traded among friends through e-mail, or “peer to peer” file sharing programs. (Music & Internet, 321) Some believe this is just a way of people “stealing” music, and not having to pay for it. It is said that these big companies are losing money due to such webites as Napster, Scour.com, Gnutella, and MP3.com, which are downloaded free, and allow users to scan millions of PC’s or main computers and locate sound and music files containing songs or albums they would like to download. Others believe that these sites have thrown major companies into financial jeopardy due to “computer-literate pirates.” (Music & Internet, 321) Many are just afraid this will hurt record sales, because many will just download music from the internet, and deprive those in the recording companies of their revenues. In May 2000, a study was done by Reciprocal Inc., a company that studies the distribution of online content, which showed that even though music sales are steadily rising, sales in record stores near college campuses have had a drop in business by 4% during the first 3 months in 1998, as overall music sales dropped 12% over the same time period. (Music & Internet, 325) Many say this was due to file sharing. Many feel that this undermines artists authority to determine how their work is presented to the public. Just because some choose to provide this music free of charge on the intermet, doesn’t mean others won’t choose to charge a small fee for their work. One main reason people are upset is because these songs are posted by fans, and not by the companies or artists themselves. This isn’t always true, because many newly-emerging artists post their music on these sites. Even some major musicians such as Public Enemy have started to advertise music on them. Chuck D, the leader of Public Enemy and the founder of Rapstation.com, says that the internet is “a new kind of radio–a promotional tool, that can help artists who don’t have the opportunity to get their music played on mainstream radio or MTV.” MP3.com says that is their purpose. According to their data, more than 31,000 independent recording artists have posted almost 200,00 songs on their MP3.com site. (327) Even some are worried about artistic expression being damaged by this. It is felt that allowing music to be traded unregulated could make it easy for others to freely trade things such as movies, books, and other music. (www.RIAA.org) Still, music comanies cannot be replaced because they provide the carrying out of all the talent searching, and cost lending needed to start the career of a decent musician. A lot of money is needed to make videos, Cd covers, and organize tours. This can’t be replaced by the internet. It is also said that all these costs are not always regained, because not all 27,000 album releases by groups that are financed retrieve a profit. (327) This debate also raises a lot of questions about our copyright laws. One law states that each time a song is played, sold, or sent out to the public in any way, then the artist should be compensated. (www.Icweb.loc.gov) But, on internet trading, no one gets anything for it. It is said that the government needs to step in to make sure that everyone is being given their proper rights and payments.
The major controversy started on December 7, 1999, when the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America, www.RIAA.org) filed a lawsuit against Napster Inc., a California-based Internet company that allowed users to download MP3’s for free from their free program. The RIAA says that the unautherized copies of these songs being given away lessens music sales and violates copyrights. In July 2000, a San Francisco court ruled in favor of a temporary ban on Napster. (Music & Internet, 323) Several days later though, Napster’s legal defense team appealed this, and Napster was allowed to continue working. Later Metallica, a well-known rock group, sued Napster on April 13, 2000 for “copyright infringement and racketeering”. Many fans were angry with the band, and even claimed that the rock group was merely “driven by hunger for profit”, and weren’t fighting for any kind of copyright infringement. (Music & Internet, 324) Napster isn’t the only company to be sued. Record companies such as BMG, Time-Warner, EMI Group PLC, Sony and Universal all filed lawsuits against MP3.com for violating copyright laws by posting songs without permission. EMI, BMG, and Time-Warner have all reached agreements to allow muic to be downloaded for a fee. Scour.com was another company to be sued by the RIAA. Many are looking away from the RIAA for answers, because they feel that they aren’t fairly making decisions that serve everyone equally. The RIAA is a “special interest group” that is supposed to join together on the behalf of the musicians, but is ran and funded by the major record companies themselves. Many feel that it is impossible to make the represent to completely different points of view, from two completely different businesses. One major worry is what will happen if the RIAA is given the job of collecting and distributing the royalties of the songs played on the web. This would be a large amount of money, and it would be up to the major labels themselves (who run the RIAA) to distribute the money to the musicians, and amongst themselves. The Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) was an attempt by the RIAA to gather together PC manufacturers, electronics manufacturers, and record labels to “develop a copyright-enabled alternative to the MP3 format.” Many see this as a “desperate scramble” to monopolize, and “maintain their stranglehold… of distribution through the application of a standardized encryption or watermarking program.” The FMO (Future of Music Organization) believes that “the RIAA simply cannot be trusted to serve two distinct masters.” Those who download this music each day feel very differently. Many say that varieties are better online, than in stores, and more music is made available to them on the internet. It’s felt by many that the people who are trading the most music are the people who are buying it the most anyways. Also, new artists find this to be a way to get their music out there and listened to, so hopefully someday they may be discovered. Metallica, for example, once encouraged fans to to make bootlegs of their concerts, and trade them. Many say this was the foundation to their career, and it helped them build recognition to the public. Fans argue that this is very similar to trading MP3’s, and therefore they should allow it to go on for future beginners. Metallica states that they believe in trading music, but only by the choice of the artists. They say, that in the case with Napster, they weren’t given a choice. (www.riaa.org)”Well established” performers also use these sites to get greater financial rewards. Roger McGuinn, leader of the 60’s band the Byrds, uses MP3.com to market his new music. He says that releasing his music online has been much more profitable than the money he made going through record labels. He even defended the on-line music industry in court in July of 2000. (Music & Internet, 327) Many people are just happy to save a few bucks, instead of being weighed down by the heavy, overpriced costs of CD’s today. It is said that the cost of making a CD today has declined greatly through the years due to technology advances. In July 1996, a lawsuit was filed against the recording industry, saying that CD’s cost only 1$ to make compared to the costs in 1983 of $3. Which, dispite the savings by record companies, the price still stands to be $15 a CD, and no savings is passed to the customer. Investigations by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) showed that major labels used illegal “price-fixing” (agreeing not to lower prices) to keep high prices and profits. As a result, American consumers were over-charged by $500 over a five year period. It is said that the popularity of online trading is due to this inflation of Cd prices. (Music & Internet, 326) Legal experts are also accusing the recording industry of breaking anti-trust laws. Some believe that these companies are trying to slow the growth of on-line competitors. According to David Boies, one of Napsters attorneys, they are trying to stall these sights from “developing further”. (Music & Internet, 327) It is argued that it can’t be resonable to ban file sharing programs all together, because not all things done on them are questionable. Some load Cd’s they bought onto their home computers, and use Napster to access it, and many bands just want their songs accessed for free, as advertising. Either way, the fight continues. Several new copyright laws have been created. One of these is the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), which protects copyrights on-line, but still has many exemptions for change and shared information on the internet. Internet service providers are exempt from legal action under one law of the DMCA, because they are just information transmitters. This creates problems in the Napster trial, because Napster claims themselves as just transmitters of info, and not the direct source of the songs. They say it’s the people who are trading, not them. Others say that the idea is similar to VCR’s. It was once said that revenue would be lost due to the copying of movies from television, but later decided that it was only going to be illegal if the copys were used to make profit. Some say Napster is the same idea. As long as no proffits are made, it should be legal to copy. Many though, argue that since these songs can reach such a wide audience, it is far different and endangering than VCR’s. (Music & Internet, 328) The AHRA is another copyright law which means “Audio Home Recording Act. This law which allows people to make copies of music for non-commercial purposes, was passed in 1992. This was made basically so friends and family could share movies and music, and not be punished for copyright infringement. It also protected manufacterors from being sued about their recording devices and equipment. (Future of Music.org)While some feel that these programs could endanger rights and radically decrease new music and works if allowed to continue, others believe it is beneficial to new artists, and at the time being, harmless to established artists. They say that if these programs are banned, then major labels would be given a better chance to monopolize the industry, under the excuse of keeping up with copyright laws. Some say that labels, artists, and fans can all bebefit from the convenience of online trading, even with slight control. It is beleived that the SDMI (Secure Digital Music Initiative) may offer a compromise. It is an effort made by the recording industry to regulate how files are traded on the internet, while making it hard for music to be duplicated and distributed online. (Music & Internet, 328)