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Jim Rogers and Paschal Preston

This chapter examines some of the fundamental ways that the music industry has reconfigured its core activities and internal structures in the context of a changing (and challenging) technological environment. After assessing the background to the growth experienced by the record industry in the 1990s, we proceed to summarize and critique accounts of ‘crisis’ that characterized much twenty-first century commentary on the sector. Understanding how the music industry has responded to the decline of its traditional ‘cashcow’ (record sales) involves examining developments across the breadth of music industry sectors. Here, drawing upon a recent empirical-level study in the Irish context, we unpack the increasing shift to the licensing of music services and brands across a multitude of platforms and outlets. With labels reconceiving themselves as music ‘partners’, multi-rights deals have become standard across the industry whereby they acquire the legal rights to exploit a vast range of revenue opportunities deriving from the recording artist. Such arrangements represent acute structural and organizational change that ultimately bolsters and maintains well-established networks of power within the music industry. We also argue that the ramifications arising from such developments are significant for the social function of music per se.