Go through music industry’s amazing journey

MUSIC INDUSTRY – THE PAST
CENTURY XIX – PRE-RECORDINGS ERA

Konfusion

What’s the music industry?

This first section, which brings us back during years 1800, is maybe the most important of all. The major idea brought by it resolves a continuous confusion that makes the 2016 universe impossible to understand: the fundamental difference between the Music industry and the Recordings industry.

Since it’s all we ever knew during our lifetime, we tend consider as a given that the industry of recordings is equal to the industry of music, which is deeply wrong.

Three very distinct parts define the music industry, the recording being only one of them:

  • the composition, created by the author and / or the composer and owned by the latter.
  • the recording, realized by the artist
  • the media, produced by the major, sold by retailers, owned by consumers

One composition will usually generate various recordings (demos, final version, remixes, covers, lives etc.) while one recording is usually released on several media (single / album, K7 / CD / Vinyl / MP3 etc.).

Labels do not only get money from the media sale, they also own property rights on both the composition and the recording. Consequently, they are paid as soon as an external person or company uses one of its entities – the composition (author rights) or the recording (airplay revenue).

A media-less industry

How the hell is that related to 1800 years yet?! We are getting there. The key one needs to understand from that period is that we didn’t knew how to record a sound, let alone save that recording on a media. Only the composition existed.

In spite of this background of no recordings nor airplay, the very first sales charts of music started to appear at that time. Indeed, the very first sales charts, including initial Billboard publications (from 1900), were Top Sheet Music Sellers. The legend says White Christmas by Bing Crosby sold as much as 7 million copies on sheet music alone.

Today, we often debate if a viral video – remember Harlem Shake? – which airs an audio song should count among streaming points of the song only because the artist doesn’t appear on the visual side. Initially, the artist wasn’t even featured in the audio, since there was no audio media. Early Top Singles rankings were charts showing the most successful songs, independently from who was the singer. More often than not sales from all artists singing the said song were merged together.

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Vernon Smith

Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, all were singer-songwriters to name a few but you’re perpetuating the typical myth. You equate songwriters as the people who make “the music”. This is nonsense. For Example, Jimi Hendrix did not write the songs “Along The Watch Tower” or “Hey Joe”. Do you equate Jimi’s record of Watchtower as the same “music” as Dylans record? Of course, you don’t. Well relevant to Elvis and the relevant songs Elvis recorded, the Hendrix example is analogous to what Presley and his lead guitarist did in “music” on Presley’s records. another quote “Often, fans of old glories feel… Read more »

Tony

You’ve forgotten one thing…… His music is shit!!

Martin

I don’t claim to be an expert on him or his movies but my impression has always been, that while they and the resulting albums and songs were extremely successful to begin with, as time went by, they ended up being seriously damaging and detrimental to his musical career. Resulting in a real fallow period of chart success, throughout most of the 1960’s.

Jackson was never as big as Presley, he was always quite a slight man!

Michael

Martin, his peak was way2 bigger than Elvis

Gonzalex

Hi,

I just finished to read the article, it was so interesting, thank you for it. This is why I love this website, we have analysis of artists but also of the market, which is very important too, we have clear answers to our questions. It’s fascinating!
Thank to you I changed my mind about streaming!

SkkyWill

Great article!

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