Harmony in the international recorded music industry? how digital technologies are impacting consumers and other key players in the marketplace

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Murat, Francois
Issue Date
MSc in International Business
Dublin Business School
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As with many of the other industries in the media and entertainment sector of the modern global economy, the international recorded music industry has been, and is still, experiencing a major re-structuring in the wake of changes driven by the rapid development, and commercialization, of digital information and communications technologies. What is less certain, however, especially when viewed from a strategic perspective, is what direction the change processes involved are taking the industry in. Moreover, the traditional players in the industry (Major Record companies and independent Labels) now find themselves having to deal with the emergence of highly competitive and innovative new players (such as Hardware Manufacturers (Apple, Mobile Phone Manufacturers and Operators), Web2.0 sites or Participative Labels). They also have to deal with the advent of ‘empowered consumers’ (especially younger ones called “digital natives”), who are increasingly Internet aware and highly influenced by its latest applications. This alleged empowerment of the consumer in the new marketplace has led some commentators, including the prestigious “Time Magazine”, to conclude that consumers now control the marketplace. Consequently, the purpose of this dissertation is to focus on the key issues of “control” and “power” in the music industry, seeking to investigate if this assumption is both relevant and correct in the digital music marketplace. To address this issue, a qualitative research methodology was used which combined questionnaires (200 self-administered questionnaires to digital natives (mostly aged 15 to 25 years old)) and 3 face-to-face interviews with music industry’ specialists. The research suggests that the music industry begins to be led by two ‘oligopolies’ of sorts (Software Providers vs. Hardware Manufacturers). In regard specifically to the emergence of a ‘consumer-entrepreneurs’ generation, the research outlined that only a tiny fraction of the surveyed consumers could eventually correspond to this trend. For the purpose of carrying the research, this report also contains a detailed overview of the current music marketplace (and its Information Society challenges). It also portrays a significant profiling on a key strategic group: the digital natives (also called ‘consumers of tomorrow’). Finally, it suggests some recommendations for further research.