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The Impact of Technology in The Music Industry

The invention of technology has completely transformed the world. Technological advancements and innovations such as the invention of the internet have drastically changed how the world operates in critical areas such as the operations of economic, the transport sector, and social interactions among people. Shapero asserts that one of the fields which have experienced fundamental changes over the years as a result of the role of technology in the music industry. Technology has significantly impacted the music industry in areas such as the distribution of music, an increase in piracy, and the music culture.

One of the highlights and defining moments of the 21st century has been the expansion of technology. Technology expansion in the 21st century has seen remarkable transformations in the spending of leisure time, communication, and work (Waddell, and Williamon). The music industry itself has had its share of change since the turn of the 21st century. The presence of technology in modern-day society has become a fundamental and crucial part of the music industry. However, there have been mixed impacts of technology in the music industry. There have been positive additions brought about by technology that has elevated the music platform while there have also been negative impacts that have severely impacted the industry.

One of the areas in the music industry, which have been impacted by technological advancements over the years is the distribution of music. The internet is often regarded as the disruptive force, which significantly changed and led to the rearrangement of the music industry. The internet’s disruption in the music industry has attributed the change in how music was commercialized. Prior to the invention and increase coverage in the use of the internet, music record labels distributed music via CD. The rise of the Apple iTunes music store in 2002 led to an awakening and a massive change in the way in which music was distributed. iTunes entry into the distribution platform was a significant point in the industry. It provided download services, which at the time were at a higher price compared to the price of CDs. The agreement between record labels and iTunes marked the beginning of the decline of record labels s which dealt with the distribution of music. The record labels in charge of distribution of music had, in previous years, enjoyed a monopoly in the distribution of music. Five years after the launch of iTunes, the distribution channel rose to become the largest distributor of music in the music industry (De León and Gupta 7). iTunes went on to dominate the retail distribution of music. Since the launch of iTunes into the music industry, technology has facilitated the rise of other platforms of music distribution, which include Spotify, internet radio, and Apple Music. Recent research conducted by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) revealed that music was the primary source of revenue in the music industry, accounting for 80% of the total revenue generated. The finding by RIAA is a clear illustration of the massive changes which have hit the music industry in terms of the distribution of music as a result of technological advancements.

The move from the physical distribution of music into online distribution vi streaming also had a significant impact on the revenues generated from music. One of the most impacted areas in the revenues generated was the distribution of music through CDs. Streaming became the most popular form of listening to music at the expense of the CDs. Since the entry of iTunes into mainstream music distribution, CDs’ distribution sales have constantly plummeted. Thus, revenue generated from the CDs also declined significantly. However, the most affected areas in terms of revenue generation were the revenue generated as a result of the sale in music by the recording industry, A comparison between the revenues generated from streaming services, and the revenue generated to the music industry prior to the steaming services also declined massively. The music industry received $14.6 billion in revenue during the 1999 and 2000 periods (Sisario). His distribution of music at the time was predominantly CDs. However, the figures declined to 7 billion in 2013 and, after that, 6.97 billion in 2014 during the streaming era (Sisario). Although the revenue generated from steaming ahs improved since 2014, the figures are yet to reach the heights attained by the music industry before the entry of streaming in music.

Technology has also become a problematic issue for the music industry. One of the main concerns in the music industry is piracy. Piracy in the music industry involves any form of theft or illegal distribution of music or an author’s talent or content without permission from the author or the respective persons or companies associated with the artist. Piracy in the music industry existed in the early 20th century. However, it was contained during the introduction of mp3, which paved the way for digitalization. However, piracy has since then sky rocked with the rise in the streaming of music as a result of technological advancements and innovations in the industry. The ease of access in music through internet services and the use of computers has made it easier to illegally download or acquire music and share or sell it without the consent of the original artists.

Akulavičius and Bartkus (717) assert that piracy in the music industry amounts to the largest form of privacy in the entire creative industry. Piracy is also the main cause of loss of revenue in the music industry. A report by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) revealed that piracy in the United States leads to massive losses in profits and revenues in the music industry. According to the findings, $12.5 billion is also annually due to the effects of piracy. The report further illustrated that piracy in sound recording leads to job losses of over 70,000 persons. The effects of piracy in the music industry also affect the United States government significantly. Piracy leads to the loss of tax revenues of more than $400 million in a year. Piracy is cancer to the music industry. It contributes to the loss of revenue and taxes yearly, while also costing thousands of employees their jobs. Piracy is significantly aided by technological advancements which aid in the fast sharing of files via computers, smartphones, and the internet.

Lastly, technology has significantly led to a change in the music culture. The change in the music culture has been aided by the invention of the internet, which has changed the cultures of stardom and the interaction between artists and their fans. In previous years, such as the vinyl era, artists were unreachable to their fans. However, the modern-day society is characterized by an increased interaction between the artists and their fans in the music industry. The use of social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have enabled close interaction between the artist and their fans. Artists and fans alike can relay information to each other via social media platforms in real-time. Another aspect of the culture in the music industry that has changed as a result of technology is the listening culture. Prior to the interaction of streaming services, people used to listen to music via physical gadgets such as CDs. The use of CDs limited the amount of time that people would listen to music due to the physical barriers of carrying gadgets. However, the onset of technology in the industry has completely transformed the culture of music listening. People can listen to music from anywhere across the world. They can do so through the use of a platform such as YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music.


The use of technology in the music industry has led to the massive transformation of the music industry. Technology has led to both positive and negative changes, which have been evident in the 21st century. Technology has helped to increase the distribution of music as well as transform the music culture through the increased interactions between fans and artists. However, it has also led to the decline of distribution recording labels, which mainly dealt with the use of CDS as a result of the introduction of streaming platforms. Technology has also led to a significant loss in revenues, taxes, and jobs due to the increase in piracy in the music industry.

Work Cited

Akulavičius, Marius, and Edverdas Vaclovas Bartkus. “Possibilities of digital piracy management in the music records industry.” Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences 213 (2015): 716-721.

De León, Ignacio L., and Ravi Gupta. “The impact of digital innovation and blockchain on the music industry.” Washington, DC: Inter-American Development Bank (2017).

Shapero, Dean. “The impact of technology on the music star’s cultural influence.” The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications 5.1 (2015): 20-27.

Sisario, Ben. “sales of streaming music top CDs in the flat year for the industry.” The New York Times, Industry Association of America. “Facts & Research.” Industry Association of America. “The true cost of sound recording piracy to the U.S Economy.”, George, and Aaron Williamon. “Technology use and attitudes in music learning.” Frontiers in ICT 6.11 (2019): 1-14.