What happens when music meets the Internet?
The digital revolution is not over, it is an ongoing process that has still enormous influence over the market and industries.
The music industry is one of the worse hit by the 'web-hurricane' and not only record labels, but also the music press and musicians feel the effects of this massive change.
Some consider the web a positive invention even for music, while some are still attached to the 'old school' ideas: read a review on a music magazine, go to a record store, buy the CD.
Since the Internet started its rise, music companies have continuously had to face new challenges and threats, mostly since the early 90s, when the circulation of the mp3 format became significant.
The first considerable change happened when peer-to-peer networks introduced the easy and free download of songs, increasing piracy and problems related to copyright protection.
Record labels were the most affected by this phenomenon. As a direct consequence of music piracy, record sales started to drop. This encouraged music labels to modify their business profile, and to embrace the new trend caused by digital music.
Music labels started legitimating online music, making a notable amount of songs available online and also introducing new solutions against illegal file sharing. The idea was to sell both the physical product and the mp3, but with poor results, record sales were still very low.
Over the last decade, new ways of listening to music online have also been introduced. Streaming sites like Spotify or Grooveshark are now the biggest sources of free 'ready-to-listen' music available on the web.
The new frontier of the Internet
Streaming might be considered a new horizon for listeners, as it allows people to access music for free, without downloading the product and actually owning it illegally. Some argue that through these new programs, people are also more encouraged to listen to new artists, discover new bands and even more willing to pay to access music.
It is doubtless that streaming has some positive aspects. It is an easy way to reach millions of artists instantly and without paying any fee, but at the same time is a double-edged instrument.
While some users pay for subscription and still buy records, others simply access the web, click a button and listen to a massive amount of free music using streaming as a substitute for buying music. This is what keeps damaging the music industry.