The Music Industry: The State of the Union

The Music Industry: The State of the Union

November 30, 2015

Sean Reagan, Megan Gordon, Ryan Stetz, & Caroline Strickland



The music industry itself can be likened to a very intricate song. As with any industry, it has various moving parts. If a song melds the sounds of percussion, brass, woodwinds, and strings, then the music industry strives to find the balance between artists, producers, consumers, and content-sharing platforms, whether those be streaming services such as YouTube and SoundCloud or a physical device, such as the iPod. As with any song, a single point in time may find  one section overwhelming the others, thus momentarily taking control of the song’s ambiance. Likewise, there is an ebb and flow of power between the industry’s different players. It crescendos in the form of major policy changes and content-sharing disruption. It becomes adagio when the industry settles into a new technology for a while, such as the introduction of radio and vinyl, which dominated the markets without significant challenge for many years. In this, the Music Industry Team’s Final Podcast, we illuminate the song that we feel the industry is playing at present. Most importantly, we forecast how the song is likely to develop.

This podcast is largely focused on Adele’s new album, 25, and her decisions to allow or disallow her music to be played via streaming services. From this conversation, we stem into more general topics that diagnose the music industry at present. We speak about the rights of the artist, the surprisingly positive affects piracy has on competition within the industry, and we make our final remarks (for now) concerning how the industry will proceed and which major players will be driving the change. Will it be the consumer, the record label, the artist, or some new center of influence that will emerge through technology-based disruption? Do you suspect a crescendo will be coming soon? We encourage you to listen and share any thoughts you may have concerning the analysis.

As always, the Music Industry Team hopes you enjoy the thought provoking points that stem from this discussion, and we thank you for your thoughts.


Sources Mentioned:

Fortune; 3 Questions for Musicians After Adele’s No-Streaming Strategy

PBS; Chronology: Technology and the Music Industry

Business Insider; The REAL Death of the Music Industry

The Wall Street Journal; Adele Says Hello to Pandora

The Motley Fool; Adele’s “25” Isn’t on Spotify or Apple Music–Here’s Why It Doesn’t Matter

Billboard; Official: Adele Breaks *NSYNC’s Single-Week Record U.S. Album Sales Record

The Detroit News; Adele’s Record “25” Sells 3.38 Million Copies, Breaks Record

Rolling Stones; The 10 Biggest Holdouts in Digital Music

Rolling Stones; Mid-Year Music Updates: Streaming Is King as Downloads Fade Away

Digital Music News; Apple Says Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube Are “Building Their Services Off the Backs of Artists”

AUX TV; Music Industry Executives Say Artist Aren’t Treated Fairly

CBS News; Songwriters: Spotify Doesn’t Pay Off. . . Unless You’re a Taylor Swift

University of Washington, Foster School of Business; The Upside of Digital Piracy: Greater Investment in Quality



1 thought on “The Music Industry: The State of the Union

  1. Anthony hector

    Music is something that is a basic need for many people including myself. Many people listen to music because it is inspiring and can put people in the mood that they desire. It truly is a shame for the artist to not receive the money they desire due to piracy on the internet. Technology has been able to expand music in terms of advertising songs and artist. The problem has come up due to technology and how everyone can get music for free. This obviously takes money away from the artist who made the music. It is basically like copyright when authors sue other authors for copying their work because this can lead to damages. The original artist can lose money off of piracy just like an author who gets his idea taken and written in another author’s book. The main issue is that the artist have not been able to stop piracy from occurring on the internet because it is too big to stop the whole internet from pirating music. Also the problem is that on the internet from pirating the people are not profiting from stealing the music, they are just taking away the money that the artist should get from the music. Artist would make a decent amount more money if the only way people were able to listen to music would be to buy it. On the internet there is just so many ways to listen to music besides from just pirating the song. People can just look up music from Youtube and have the songs there.

    The artist who are not really worried about this issue are the major artist who are making a crazy amount of money even with this issue. The artist who struggle from this issue are the ones who are up and coming and are not as big as a Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, or Drake. This problem never came up until the internet came out because there was no way people could steal music the way people steal music now-a-days. Music was physically sold in a CD or something of that nature in stores. The other problem that comes up now is streaming music. Apps like soundcloud mess with artist as well because people are able to stream any song they want without any fee being paid.

    The thing that needs to happen is possibly a holdout from music from artist, but that is clearly not going to happen because the big artist do not care as much as some other artist because they are still able to make a lot of money. This sort of thing happens in sports where the players think they do not make as much money as they should so they create a lockout and they do not play. The main reasoning behind this is because the sport cannot go on without any players. The same thing goes for music, but music is a too big a scale for that to ever happen.


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