The Three Cs of Key Music Sector Trends Today: Commodification, Concentration and Convergence

The Three Cs of Key Music Sector Trends Today: Commodification, Concentration and Convergence

Paschal Preston (Dublin City University, Ireland) and Jim Rogers (Dublin City University, Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-037-2.ch024
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Abstract

Drawing upon a recent examination of contemporary trends in the music industry, this chapter explores the evolving relationships between new digital media technologies, socio-economic factors and media cultures as we enter the second decade of the twenty-first century. We examine the implications of these trends with regard to three fundamental concepts in the analysis of culture, namely commodification, concentration and convergence. We draw upon these concepts to guide our study of a music industry that is widely perceived as a leading site for new media developments. In this study we question the extent to which the music industry is experiencing transformations or significant disruptions resulting from technological innovations, or whether it is actually much more a case of ‘business as usual’ in the commercial music industry. Thus, this chapter interrogates and challenges the dominant framing of current debates around the notion of ‘crisis’ in the music industry. Furthermore, it considers how the concepts of commodification, concentration and convergence remain crucial to an informed and thorough understanding of current trends in the media and cultural industries.
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Music: No Longer Cinderella At The Media Industries Ball

Here, let us first clarify what we mean by the term ‘music industry’. This is essentially an umbrella term covering four core industrial sub-sectors: the record industry; the music publishing industry; the live music industry; the music merchandise industry. While the live music industry and merchandise industry have increased in economic significance considerably over recent years [e.g. US concert industry revenues more than doubled between 2002 and 2008 to a value of US$ 4.2 billion (Pollstar, 2009)], it is the record and music publishing sub-sectors that are the primary focus of our attention in this chapter. Internationally, these sub-sectors are dominated by just four ‘major’ music companies: Universal, Warner’s, Sony and EMI. In the record industry, the music industry’s largest sub-sector, these companies accounted for 74% of the global record sales market in 2007 (IFPI, 2008).

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