Pikas, B., Pikas, A.,

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The article The Future of the Music Industry, Written by authors Bohdan Pikas, Anastasia Pikas and Candice Lymburner focuses on music piracy and how it has been a growing problem, as downloading sites for free file sharing have become increasingly more popular and easily accessible. The authors first focus on the background of modern music, and then look into legislation and the Napster court case, and then highlight Digital Rights Management software, and close with the future of the music industry. At the end of the article, results from a survey that the authors conducted are revealed in order to gain insight into the downloading and purchasing habits of recorded music that a younger demographic holds. Through the collected data, they were able to determine that majority of respondents participate in the illegal downloading of music and file sharing, with over 70% indicating that as their main source of obtaining music. The purpose of the study was to understand that there is a rapid decline of sales in music for the fact that access to free music has become so prevalent amongst the public in todays date, and by conducting a study where the youth population is surveyed, the findings provide evidence for the profound impact that illegal downloading is prevalent, and the next step is to try and analyze what is in store for the future of the music industry.

The article is introduced by stating, “the music industry has a problem with the advances in technology which allow for obtaining music for free” (Pikas, Pikas & Lymburner, 2011, p. 139). Technology is the initial problem that creates obstacles which takes a toll on the music industry. In attempt to cope with this issue, the music industry must decide to spend millions of dollars in order to defend themselves against illegal downloading or the release of free music. In attempt to deter this issue, the government is trying to institute laws. The article states that the music industry has given up on preventing downloading and copying over time by lifting the Digital Rights Management software on purchased music. The authors provide history of the sales within the music industry, stating that it has been on a decline since 1979, and has escalated since the emergence of the CD hit the market in 1984. From there, the sales of recorded music reached almost $4billion for the first time since the late 1970s. However, in recent years the sales of CDs are now on the decline, with 361 million sold in 2008, which was down almost 20% from the year before. This was because music downloading through websites including iTunes was introduced and became more dominant by gaining a share of the sales in the industry. The authors make it clear that it is important to address the history of the MP3, a system which hit Americas market on a large scale in 1999, involved audio compression which allowed for music files to be smaller without the lose of sound quality. The MP3 enabled the sharing and downloading of music to transfer from computers to these potable music players. With this new technology, the opportunity to download music through computers and share songs with others lead to the problems with file sharing that the industry holds today.

According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the sales that were lost due to digital piracy reached approximately $4.6 billion world wide in 2004, and the number continues to grow as downloading sites for free file sharing have become more and more common in society. When downloading sites Napster and LimeWire began, the only thing that was required from users was registration information, and from there they had access to all of the free songs they wished to download. In the year 2000, a court case began in attempt to stop Napster, which was the biggest illegal file sharing company at the time. The legislation that Napster was in trouble with involved the audio Home Recording Act of 1992 and most imperatively, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. The authors explain that the way that Napster worked was that with each song uploaded into a users computer, any other person could download the song directly from that person’s computer if they were registered in the system. This information is important to state because therefore, Naspers software enabled users to directly connect to each other’s computers and download the MP3 music files, while technically not having its own library of songs. Napster led to copyright infringement because the system was replacing potential sales of physical recordings. The authors focus on the other side of the spectrum as well, by stating that Napster users gain “commercial” benefit because they did not need to purchase music for the reason that they were able to repeat the process of copying and distributing recordings through the site. As a result, on February 12, 2001, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appealed rules that Napster committed repeated infringements of copyright laws. So when Apple released the emergence of the iPod, it wanted to provide its own music library service allowing users to buy new music through what was names iTunes. The authors include the important information that the RIAA estimated that Napster through the estimated 20 million online users cost the music industry more than $300 million in lost sales.

The authors next find it important to explain Digital Rights Movement (DRM), as it puts a lock on downloaded music, which in turn limits the share of a purchased song. Apple has used this system from the beginning, with their songs having the DRM software encoded into them to restrict the number of computers that the music can be played on, as well as the type of players that are able to play the song. It is mentioned in that article that this was not necessarily a choice of Apples, but rather an agreement that was reached by the big four music companies in order to prevent illegal copying of their music. Warner, Sony BMG, Universal and EMI provided Apple with the licence so it could distribute their songs, which all together account for 70% of the Worlds music. With this information and despite the locks that were corresponded with certain songs, illegal downloads were still apparent and increasing throughout the Internet because websites constantly arise and allow for illegal song. As the authors transition into the latter half of the article, they make it evident that there is concern for the future of the music industry. They mention that if sales of music continue to decrease or become completely free, the music industry would have to gain profits through a different outlet. By artists holding live concerts, it allows them to attain their success, in which it is stated that in 2008, concert tickets in North America have reached $4.2 billion.

The authors conduct a survey, including charts and analytical results the represent the questions the survey contained in which results held profound impact on the future for the music industry. The sample was of a younger demographic, ages 17-24, middle class males and females. The authors include that the survey was conducted randomly in order to get a representative sample. Some examples of the questions that were asked was “I obtain my music mostly through unpaid downloads”, in which 80% of participants admitted to such behaviour. Another example of a question that was asked in the survey was “I would purchase, or pay to download a CD even if I could copy it from a friend or download online for free”, in which 62.67% of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed. The article concludes after these results, in a rather hopeful manner stating, “whatever methods the industry decides on to keep the profits coming, music will become the biggest marketing effort as the labels continue to make money in alternate ways; this giant is here to stay” (Pikas, Pikas & Lymburner, 2011, p. 149). With the insight that the survey provides on downloading and purchasing habits of recorded music that reveals over 70% of participants in the survey define illegal downloading as their main source of obtaining music, it is unsure how long this giant really is here to stay. The strengths that this article holds is that it focuses on the background of the music industry and how illegal downloading it became so prevalent through initial downloading sites Napster and LimeWire. By also touching base on legislation and the Digital Rights Management software, it allows for readers to grasp understanding on how big the issue of illegal downloading is and how it seriously affects the artists. Evidently, the authors investigated how prevalent downloading is through a sample, in order to gain accurate results that they can analyze. A weakness that this article holds is the lack of a formal hypothesis(s), which could have assisted the reader to get a better understanding on what information exactly the authors were hoping to identify in their results prior to conducting the study. Another aspect that this article could have improved on would be to include more detail on who the participants were, such as which school they attend or the amount of people that were included in the survey. It would have been beneficial to understand the exact group of people that the authors sampled in order for accurate results and a better understanding of the participants. This article holds a study that has lots of potential if more detail about participants were included. Aside from this, the authors provided background research and information that assists to determine what the future will be like for the music industry.

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