Digital technological innovations are commonly perceived to be radically disrupting the power or role of corporate actors within the music industry and their established industrial practices and interests. In particular, the internet is widely regarded as having produced a “crisis” for the music industry. While such assumptions reflect the predominance of technological deterministic thinking in relation to the music industry, this paper aims to draw upon historical insights from past research on radical technical innovation processes to inform this approach to examining some of the key innovations that have occurred in the music industry in the digital era.
This paper draws on a range of qualitative data obtained primarily from a recently completed Irish‐based music industry research project, primarily comprised of interviews conducted with key music industry informants and personnel.
Key findings indicate that ongoing legal innovations, combined with the widespread adoption of social networking sites and other online content platforms are (amongst other factors) serving to maintain and bolster the position of major music copyright owners.
In the context of the contemporary “knowledge economy”, the authors propose paying special attention to one specific area of policy innovation – that related to the intellectual property rights (IPRs) regime. In particular, they place emphasis on the copyright strand of IPRs in shaping the outcome of digital platforms for the promotion and dissemination of music. In doing this, they consider the evolution of a re‐configured music industry “structure” which re‐conceptualises the music artist as an “all‐encompassing bundle” of rights through which a diverse range of revenue streams are increasingly streamlined back to a small handful of major copyright owners.
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