Piracy in the Music Industry

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 13.03.20

From http://www.ifpi.org/music-piracy.php

Tackling music piracy

The music industry is a business whose success depends on certainty in the legal environment and on copyright law. This is a constant and ever-changing challenge – the music market internationally continues to be distorted by unfair competition from unlicensed services.

IFPI estimates, based on comScore/Nielsen data, that 20 per cent of internet users worldwide regularly access unlicensed services. This estimate applies only to desktop-based devices: it does not include the emerging, but as yet unquantified, threat of smartphone and tablet-based mobile piracy as consumers migrate to those devices.

The industry is responding not with a single strategy, but with a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach. It includes: consumer education on copyright and the value of music; working with law enforcement agencies to tackle online piracy; litigation against online pirate services; and engaging with policymakers and legislators worldwide to create an environment in which the music sector can grow. The industry is also working with online stores to remove infringing apps and to ensure that apps cannot access illegal websites.

The industry believes all parties in the digital economy have a responsibility to support legitimate digital commerce and help tackle piracy in all its forms. Record companies are looking work with advertisers, domain registrars, internet service providers (ISPs), payment providers and search engines to achieve this goal. Courts around the world are finding that the law also requires greater cooperation from online intermediaries.


Here is what The Recording Industry Association of America have to say on piracy. Click on the image below:

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 13.05.54


Check out this short documentary about music piracy

How the Stars Are Fighting Back Against Music Piracy

And check out the image below. Click on it for further information

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 13.30.54.png


David Byrne’s Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and Megastars

This is an outstanding article from David Byrne about the changes the music industry has been through and what the future might hold. Click on the image to go the original Wired Magazine. I cannot recommend this article enough, outstanding and an essential piece of research for your Case Study.

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 12.24.23

Music Distribution

Music Distribution is concerned with how the products gets from the Institution to the actual Audience. This can happen in many ways and it has changed over time and will probably continue to do so.

Check this out for more info for your Case Study Music Distribution

The following is from http://horusmusic.co.uk/what-is-music-distribution/

What is Music Distribution?

It might sound like a silly question but you’d be surprised how hard it can be to give an accurate definition of what music distribution actually is.

In the first instance, an image of physical albums being transported to shops around the country may spring to mind, and in essence that is the main concept. Music distribution is the process of getting music from artist to store, making it available to the public for purchase, whether that store be a physical or digital music retailer.

what is music distribution


The more traditional method of distribution; this is how albums get into shops. A distribution company signs deals with record labels or artists that then gives them the right to sell that label’s or artist’s music to shops that have an account with the distributor. Put simply the distributing company act as a middleman between the artist/record label and the store.


Digital distribution works much the same, just on a different platform. Instead of transporting albums to a physical store the distribution company will distribute music in digital format (usually mp3 or .wav) to online music platforms such as iTunes, Spotify and AmazonMP3.

Some digital distributors accept everyone that wishes to sell via their site. Others also sell via their own site but are more picky with who they allow to sell on it.

Horus Music accept musicians that provide music in a standard that would be deemed acceptable by the stores then distributes it to over 600 download, streaming, mobile and radio platforms in 170+ countries.

 See for yourself.


Record Company Structure & Interesting Labels

Once you’ve settled on a record company to research you might want to take a look at how that business is structured and how it has changed over time. Here’s a short chapter about how some record companies are organised:

Record Company Structure

and this on Music and New Technologies

Here’s a link to a BBC site about indie record labels vs the majors:


A couple of my fave labels:



And the amazing Luaka Bop label started by David Byrne. Find out about their history here.


How Music Works by David Byrne

How Music Works is a book by David Byrne about the music industry and in part about his experiences. It’ll be an amazing text book for this unit and I cannot encourage you more to purchase it. You can buy it at all good book shops and it’s also available as an interactive ebook.

Here is a chapter to get you started:

David Byrne – How Music Works


I’ll be updating this blog with a lot more about David Byrne as he’s had loads of articles published about the music industry so he’s able to supply us with a lot of information about the inside of the industry.

Check out his website and award winning journal (blog) here: www.davidbyrne.com 



What a Case Study Looks Like

You might be thinking, what does a music Case Study for Section B: Institutions and Audiences even look like? Here are some things which your case study should cover:

  • You’re looking at the interaction of the following three aspects: the institution itself (the music industry, which includes labels, distributors, artists, bands etc.) the product (which includes songs, albums and even the artist as a ‘brand’) and of course, the consumer (the audience)
  • You’ll also be considering the role technology has had on the Institution and Audience.  Both hardware, software and for both groups. Just think about how the different experiences your parents had with purchasing and listening to music to what you do?

Here is an example of a Case Study based on Lady Gaga:

Lady Gaga – Sony Music Entertainment

This is the kind of detailed research you’ll need to do.



Whilst the following is mainly about film we can easily apply it to music.

From Edusites Media:

Jill Nelmes, in ‘An Introduction to Film Studies’ defines synergy strategy as:

Combined or related action by a group of individuals or corporations towards a common goal, the combined effect of which exceeds the sum of the individual efforts. (Nelmes, 1996: 42)

Synergy can come in a number of different forms:

Product Placement

Companies pay to feature their product in a film, which often leads to a deal in which the film’s protagonist or other characters are featured in their advertising campaigns.


Promotional Partnerships, where the film or its characters will feature on existing products. This may be in the form of competitions.


Products based on the original, i.e. the Film. A film may be a spin-off of a television series, or a television series may be created as a spin-off of a film. We can also think of this as media convergence.

Pre-Existing Property

If a film is based on pre-existing material (for example a video game, novel or comic book) the pre-existing material is often re-released featuring imagery from the film on its cover, or a special edition is released in synch with the film’s scheduled cinematic release.


Companies created products specifically for the film, for example toys, calendars, video games. These products not only help market the film, but the audience’s knowledge of the film brings their awareness to the merchandise.

Vertical Integration

When distribution and some forms of exhibition are kept in-house, meaning other subsidiaries of the conglomerate (who owns the production company) distribute the film and create DVD releases of it.

We do not consider publicity (i.e. press appearances and interviews) as a form of synergythough.

Synergy is a common action of the multi-media conglomerates who own the Hollywood studios. Often they will incorporate products from their different subsidiaries. For example, one of their Studios will produce a film, one of their TV studios will create a spin-off series, and one of their games manufacturers will produce a game. This will benefit the conglomerate as their products will be cross-promoted by each other, multiplying the profits for the conglomerate. Remember conglomerates are horizontally and vertically integratedmeaning they have several companies in a number of different multi-media fields, which allows them easy access to synergy opportunities.

Looking at the synergy of particular case studies allows us to analyse the structure of Hollywood, how major high concept releases get the funding and profit they do and how they are able to dominate, through their distribution campaigns, over independent films. It is an important facet of Hollywood because it enables the conglomerates to continually accumulate large sum of profit, thus enabling them to continue to make major releases and dominate over the global market.

Another key issue with synergy is that it is in part responsible for the repetitive nature of Hollywood films. To encourage corporate partnerships, merchandise deals and other pre-sales, enabling large budgets to be sought means the films Hollywood produce have to be viewed as low-risk by the partners.

Safe films are those which seem to be almost guaranteed to succeed (remember there are never any guarantees in the film industry!). Partners and investors will want to see evidence that similar films have done well in the recent market, that the directors and stars’ recent films have been profitable and any pre-existing property or clear genre conventions help this.

Therefore, if you look at your local cinema listings, or a film magazine like Empire and Total Film for upcoming releases, you will see there are many similarities between the major Hollywood films. Filmmaking at this level is a business and films have been potential for synergy, therefore more potential for profit if they are safe investments.

Whilst we often say a film’s profit is dictated by the opening weekend box office figures; in today’s global society film’s often make as much, if not more profit, from the longevity of the film’s brand as a presence in the public sphere – this happens through synergy.

So to sum up:

  • Synergy is an important part of a film’s marketing campaign- making the public aware of the film’s existence.
  • Synergy is an integral reason for the success of the major conglomerates, who own Hollywood, and for their dominance over independents worldwide.
  • Synergy is also a key reason for the studio’s preference towards safe films, because the safer the investment the more likely it is that they will be able to attract corporate partnerships.
  • The synergy opportunities developed for a film can often be more profitable than the film itself and keep the film brand in the public sphere constantly- ideal if the studios are planning a sequel, which is more than common in contemporary Hollywood!