Assignment 1 Blog 1:The Rise of Digital Music

Topics coveredMusic and Materiality

From phonographs to vinyl records, from cassettes to CDs, the development of technology continues to change the way for people listen to music. The emergence of digital music, is rewriting the history of the entire music industry. The digital music revenue in 2015 accounted for 45% of the music market, writing for the first time in history beyond the physical music revenue (39%) of the record.

According to the global music market research institutions IFPI(International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) latest 2015 report, music recording revenue overall grew by 3.2% to $15 billion; digital music revenue going up to 10.2% (but digital downloads decrease to 10.5%), while physical music sales going down to  4.5%. The proportion of the current market point of view, digital music revenue for the first time more than physical music sales revenue, illustrating the music industry market changes. In digital music, the most noteworthy is the subscription service. In last year, global subscription revenue grew from $ 58.9 million to $ 2 billion, while subscriptions to music services grew by 66% to 68 million. Merely in 2015, there were 27 million new subscriber user.

Compared to tape and CD these physical music, digital music is composed of numerical and coding, in the form of archives to store music. Among them, MP3 is the most popular format, popular in 1997 after the popularity of the network, due to the convenience of downloading MP3 music through the Internet, more and more people are stop to spend money to buy album, leading to Sales of physical records began to decline, musicians and record companies income plummet.
The first to break the deadlock is Apple Inc. I In 2003, apple bought millions of songs of the right from the major record companies to sell them, through in digital form in the music platform for the sale of iTunes, and designed the portable player iPod to use with iTunes . Apple sells per song, each part of the amount paid to the record company, and  that content providers can also benefit, this way can balance the digital music and the tension between the music industry. ITunes is a  successful cases to attract many industry to follow, other countries have launched a legitimate music download platform, so the digital music has gradually become a stable industry.


IFPI pointed out that the digital music service to the musician of the balance of feedback, especially YouTube. YouTube is the world’s largest online music platform that lets people search and listen to their favorite music on the platform, with 800 million people watching music videos on YouTube every month, however averaging every user on YouTube , Musicians will only get less than $ 1 income. (

Hence, as digital music piping has grown in the music market, musicians and copyright owners are no longer able to calculate revenue as they have in the past, and online music services and musicians need to plan how to find the mutual value and income balance in the market.


IFPI (2016).  IFPI Global Music Report 2016.  Available:       Last accessed  11/11/16.

Joan E. Solsman (2016). Study: Streaming Isn’t Killing the Music Business — YouTube Is
Available:    Last accessed  11/11/16.

Glenn Peoples (2016).  IFPI Global Report: Digital Revenues Surpass Physical for the First Time as Streaming Explodes.  Available:    Last accessed  11/11/16.


2 thoughts on “Assignment 1 Blog 1:The Rise of Digital Music

  1. I think the idea of artist getting paid much less as digital music revenue grows and physical music revenue falls is an interesting one that will become much more relevant in the proceeding years. I’d maybe look at Patrik Wikstrom’s account of the music industry, he speaks about how technology dictates how the music industries operate, which is essentially displayed by the change in revenue streams you speak of

  2. This was an interesting read with quite a lot of factual information. I think you may benefit from focusing more on a precise current issue that those facts may relate to. I believe some of the information you have mentioned could be looked at from different perspectives. I think you should try and discuss the issues with relevance from the perspective of the copyright owners and musicians that you mentioned towards the end, that are being affected by the change in the industry.

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