How music listening and the music industry changes with new technologies?

By Karim Aziz

Back when streaming platforms such as Spotify or YouTube did not exist, music was only accessible during live performances. However, various innovations, from the phonograph in 1877 to our smartphones, made music listening reachable at any time and anywhere. Consequently, music consumption increased over the years, US citizens above thirteen spend on average 35.7 hours listening to music per week. Various mediums are used to consume music, from digital with MP3 to physical with Comapct Discs and Vinyls, here is a chart dividing user group per age and the way they listen to music. 

Today, the physical purchase of music is growing again, the vinyl industry is showing a large resurgence, vinyl record sales were of 416 million in 2015. This phenomenon shows that sometimes, for some people, the easier is not the better. Indeed, even though many media are available, a part of society tends to shift back to old listening options such as records, which can be seen as more time-consuming.

Different studies already worked on the impact of new technologies on music listening, Pinch and Bijsterveld (2004) discussed the place of music in our society, with the rising new technologies, tracing the evolution of music listening, from the arrival of radio to the Walkman. Furthermore, Fouce (2010) studies the impact of new technologies on the music industry and its business model. Also, Perlamn (2004) focuses on audiophiles, usually white and middle-class men, who spend a lot of money on music and audio equipment. He shows how two different groups of audiophiles legitimise their preferences (one group bases it on technology).

From my perspective, I see music as something important as everyone listens to it. Not everyone is obsessed with new technologies and their usage for music listening, sometimes old methods are preferred. It is also interesting to see how the music industry adapts itself to various demands and a rapidly changing environment.


One thought on “How music listening and the music industry changes with new technologies?

  1. I think vinyl is a medium that has proven itself to be timeless. Will CDs ever fully come back? Will cassettes make a comeback? Hard to say. Vinyl is the first successful form of music media that has managed to boomerang. Today, we’re seeing turntables that can cater to digital gear as well (bluetooth record players, USB record players, etc.). That probably has a lot to do with the resurgence. Good little read. Thanks for posting 🙂

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