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Discuss the Impact of Digital Technology on the Production and Distribution of Music.

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Over centuries past, music has seen leaps and bounds in the enhancement of theory, instruments, and recording arts. The first major leap was the invention of the piano in 1709 by Bartolomeo Cristofori. From that first major step came the introduction of electronic instruments short after the harnessing of electricity which came in the early 19th century. Soon after that came recording and then on to synthesizers and eventually digital recording. As computers were introduced to society, computer music was also brought into our vision. What we are seeing today in the music industry is the use of computers and the Internet to distribute music, whereas in the past, distribution was only available via record, eight track, tape and compact disc. There are a few problems that come with the distribution of music via the Internet, mostly legal, having to do with record companies. With computers becoming a bigger and more important part of our society everyday, it is inevitable that they will affect our music more than what they have already. Computers will become even more depended upon for producing and distributing music in the future.

The evolution of the music industry has been deeply influenced by the developments in technology. One could argue that technology has been many times a challenge for existing modes of cultural production, its economic relationships, and the law. New technologies often find existing relationships unprepared for changes, so technology becomes the vehicle for transformation and further development of existing relations. Unusually the first reaction is an attempt to incorporate new developments into an existing framework and then to use them for profitable purposes. For example, look at the impact of Johann Gutenberg's invention in the 15th century.

Gutenberg's movable type created in one sense the foundation for the modern music industry. control of the duplicating process had moved from the hands of church into those of the entrepreneur. Literature was becoming secularized to meet the demands of its new audience, and music too, would soon be transformed as its principal patron, the church was replaced by the public consumer"

The technological achievements of the last 100 years ultimately did little to challenge existing systems, but instead only reinforced them. The invention of sound recordings, for example the phonograph, created the music industry, as we know it. The response of the music industry over time to new technologies supports the notion that technologies reinforce, rather than radically alter, existing systems of information creation and distribution.

The MP3 phenomenon is an example of the effect of the World Wide Web on the structure of global society. To understand and analyze the challenges of MP3, it is really important to 'place' this reality in its technological and social framework. As a beginning it is important to place MP3 in the context of the Internet phenomenon, its political consequences and its capabilities as medium.

The global response to the Internet has been remarkable. What has made this technological transformation so different from all previous technological "revolutions" is the Internet's fundamental provision of interactivity . This interactivity allows for the free expression of ideas and opinions which at times are in conflict with more traditional views

Hence the Internet supports open access and free communication but as a result there may be conflicts with the social and moral beliefs of some of its users. For example:

"As the text currently stands, it is impossible that a school student in one country downloading music files from a server located in a second country could be extradited - at the request of a third country - and thrown into jail. A French citizen resident in the United Kingdom has already spent several months in prison for having commercially hosted, on a server run by an American company, pornographic images that were legal in both France and the USA but illegal in Britain"

To put it another way, if copyright laws are ignored in one place in the globe by freely distributing MP3 music in a state where laws regarding piracy are not well formed or not strictly enforced, it is difficult for parties in other states to stop this sort of distribution. In addition, the large volume of traffic on the Internet makes it difficult to track messages and files over time and space.

Given that there are thousands of MP3 sites around the world, with a vast array of musical resources, visited by millions, there is a new social reality of individuals organizing themselves and their musical passions.

The music industry today is an organized business with over 70 percent of the global market controlled by five major corporations. The possibilities for newcomers in the business are few. MP3 was so undesirable because it represented an application of technology unanticipated by the industry. Given the industry's history of taking advantage of new technologies, how will it use the Internet?

The future of the business is closely related to computer technology and the World Wide Web. The Internet provides opportunities to expand markets, transport goods more easily and hence increase sales, and consequently provide for more profitable results. New computing developments and environments will make the consumption of music easier than ever while at the same providing products of a much higher quality:

"Systems are being put in place in stores to allow music (be it entire albums or individuals songs) to be downloaded and burned to CD, DVD or minidisk. Sony, for instance, is making nearly 4,000 titles from its back catalogue available in this fashion, including many out-of-print titles ... Sony's agreement with Digital-On-Demand provides a means by which entire albums or individual songs can be downloaded and burned onto a 'custom' CD for the consumer in a retail store ... We may witness a change in development of albums, as a result, and potentially a resurgence in the notion of a 'single', insofar as consumers may choose to purchase individual songs on a custom 'mix'



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