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Welcome to our site. We invite you to take a closer look at the music recording industry and production of CDs through a supply chain analysis. We chose the recorded music industry because it integrates the topic of industry structure and changes with an important media form well-known to everyone. This site deals with the global competitiveness of the industry by comparing the major players in the industry and their differing strategies throughout time.

The breadth of the music industry is astounding. Out of 3,300 hours that you, the consumer, spend consuming some form of media, you spend an average 257 hours or 7.8% of your time listening to recorded music. And this does not include radio consumption! This is a fairly astounding figure considering that music is one of the top areas of consumer demand in such a broad area as media.

We have also found that consumer spending and consumption of this music media has changed dramatically through time. There was a 122.6% increase in consumer spending per average person on recorded music in America from 1984 to 1994. This is a greater change than any other types of media including cable, movies and theaters, magazines, home videos, and newspapers.

The reasons for this change are linked to the technology structure so prevalent in the music industry. When Thomas Edisonís "talking machine" was invented in 1877, he probably had no idea that this recording machine would mutate music from LPís to cassettes to CDís to mini discs and finally to MP3ís. More and more, people became hungrier for "portable" music instead of having to leave the comfort of their locales to enjoy a music concert. And the technology and advancements in music that evolved provided people with the luxury of instant gratification.

It was with the explosion of rock and roll into the industry in the mid 1950s that the music industry saw greater breadth and expansion. Artists, recordings, and labels appeared every day and retail expanded for the customerís convenience. FM radio stations grew and needed more recordings and the compact disc arrived to solve this problem, boosting the industry with a much better quality in sound. CDís dramatically replaced cassettes when 333.1 million units sold in 1991 in America became 727.6 million units in 1995. Meanwhile, sales of cassettes fell from 360.1 million units in 1991 to 272.6 million units in 1995.

With all of these changes, the music recording industry had to adapt and change its structure as well. Large entertainment conglomerates took over in an international scale by acquiring different branches of the entire entertainment industry such as film, television, electronics, recordings, music publishing, record labels, and even retail chains. Because music infused itself into every major entertainment sector, from film to radio to TV, these entertainment conglomerates were particularly interested in owning the major components of the music supply chain- publishing, manufacturing, and distribution. Owning a copyright of Michael Jacksonís "Thriller", for example, would make the company profits through royalties each time a song was played in a film, a TV show, the radio, or sold in a store while the company just sat back and enjoyed. And with the prevalence of technology, these companies could encourage more and more artists to record, reaching a wider breadth of music tastes, and therefore more consumers. Faster and better technology increased the companyís chance of striking another hit like "Thriller."

These entertainment conglomerates sprang up all over the world--EMI from the UK, Time Warner from the U.S., Sony Music from Japan, Polygram from the Netherlands, MCA from Canada, and BMG from Germany. And while the focus of the industry began in the United States where entertainment was a global leader, the industries began to spread around the world, finding untouched areas to infiltrate their knowledge, power, network structure and expertise. By finding these hidden untouched niches, the conglomerate companies, formerly known as the Big Six, were able to compete against each other by tapping into untouched resources. New recording technology became another resource, especially in recent years, that companies have been manipulating to compete against each other.

Perhaps the newest problem that the music industry faces is that this new technology has reached too many consumers in too many places too easily. With the rise of the internet, the music medium was infused into yet another realm. Yet, before the global music industry along with different governments could work together to think of a method to handle this transition, the piracy problem swept the globe. Music pirates could spread music at no cost or little cost to the consumer with just a click of the mouse. The music industry has lost and is still losing millions of dollars for these copyright infringements. The question now remains of how the music industry will handle the internet as a new form of music media. Will technology save them again this time by providing a method of limiting illegal music sales through the internet? Who will succeed and who will fail in harnessing the power of this new market?

We encourage you to join us in exploring the unraveling of the music industry, particularly focusing on the period of compact discs, through time and to discover how new technologies are helping and hurting the global industry.

Start your journey here. We hope you enjoy the beats through time.

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Last Update: April 6, 2000