Music Industry

For the “weekend reading” we have selected materials about the records of musical charts, the triumphant return of Winamp media player and how audio formats have changed over the past 100 years.

History of the music industry

It’s a hit: history and music chart records. The first music hit parade Hot 100 appeared in 1955 in the American magazine Billboard. Today, charts have become an integral part of the industry – they are made up of newspapers, websites, streaming services and online stores.

In the article we recall the history of hit parades development and also talk about their record-breakers. In particular, Elvis Presley, who lasted in the top 79 weeks, and musicians whose singles took off from the bottom of the chart to the first line in one week (Britney Spears and Kelly Clarkson).

From critics to algorithms: the fading voice of the elite in the music world. For a long time, the opinion of music critics was of great importance. Experts actually kept public tastes under control.

But today their opinion is becoming less and less valuable, the critics have been replaced by playlists and algorithms of streaming services. We decided to tell you how it happened. This article is the first part of the series about the music industry.

From critics to algorithms: labels, corporations and musical culture of the XX century. Industrialization had a serious impact on the balance of power in the industry: the leading role in the formation of the musical agenda has passed from cultural elites to corporations. We tell you how this fact affected academic music, pop music and show business.

From critics to algorithms: how democracy and technocracy came to the music industry. This is the final material of the cycle. We understand how music has been transformed under the influence of technology. We are talking about the success of MTV channel (which was initially considered a failure idea), social network and streaming services like Spotify.

Birth and death of the album: how formats have changed over the last 100 years. In the first half of the 20th century, the music industry was very different from the modern one. The main musical format of the time was vinyl records with albums – complete and conceptual works.

For example, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts’ Club Band” by The Beatles had seamless transitions between songs. But the commercialization of the music led to the fact that in the 80’s the albums lost their popularity. The industry focused on producing singles. In the article we discuss why it happened so.

About streaming services

Canada has proposed a Streaming Tax, which is the problem. The Guild of Canadian TV Composers proposed to legalize the fee for Internet users who spend more than 15 GB of traffic per month. The initiative was not approved, but we decided to find out what the “salt” of such a tax is and whether there are similar cases in other countries.

The EU has approved the Copyright Directive – a platform against it. According to the law, streaming platforms should introduce content filters that will prohibit users from uploading unlicensed content to the site.

Musicians and labels have expressed support for the new directive, but IT industry representatives say that it is more difficult to implement such a function in practice than it seems at first glance. In the article we consider the opinions of both parties.

What is the essence of the conflict between the two most famous streaming companies. Spotify and Apple have been waging a “undercover war” for several years now. This spring the conflict escalated when the Swedish streaming service filed a complaint against the “apple” to the European Commission.

Spotify said that the U.S. corporation discriminates against competitors’ apps in the AppStore. We consider claims against Apple: from unfair taxes to difficulties in updating services.

History of SoundCloud: from the idea to the 10th anniversary of the project. We recall the history of the music service, which is now used by more than 40 million people. The article is a chronological material: from the birth of the idea of the site and the first investments in 2008 to the successful recovery from the crisis in the summer.

As an IT company, it fought for the right to sell music. In 1981, Apple was told that they would never “touch” the music market. But twenty years later, they broke their promise by announcing iTunes.

This step drew the attention of another company with an apple on the logo. It’s about the Apple Corps media conglomerate. There was a lawsuit between the companies that “divided” the sphere of influence of the two firms.

Tightening the nuts: Spotify has stopped working directly with the authors. In 2018, the streaming service began to make direct deals with musicians bypassing labels.

But less than a year later, the platform decided to close the access to the function that allowed the authors to upload tracks to the service on their own. We tell you why Spotify management abandoned the idea to democratize the platform and how the musicians reacted to it.

For all tastes: streaming services for listening to music. This is our review of popular services, which will help you choose the platform based on your needs. We evaluated the platforms according to the most general criteria: the possibility of free listening, the volume of the media library, the cost of subscription and the availability of thematic playlists (for example, for running).

Winamp returns – we discuss whether it has a chance in the streaming era. In 2018, after a five-year break, the developers of Radionomy announced Winamp 6. According to the company’s plan, the application will become an aggregator of streaming services, podcasts and audio books. We are investigating whether the project has any prospects and whether it will be able to withstand Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer.

Now streaming services in the USA will pay more to musicians. A year ago in the U.S. passed a law that regulates the issue of royalties for musicians from streaming venues. Now the “fees” will be set by a special government body.

At the same time, the new law will oblige streaming services to pay the authors of songs written between 1923 and 1972. Previously, the owners of the rights to these works did not receive money. The law comes into force on January 1, 2020 – in the article we discuss the reaction of the community: politicians, musicians and labels.


Record as a gift or free music for cola lovers and ready-made breakfasts. A few years ago, a record or cassette was available free of charge. They were given to sellers of audio equipment and large corporations for advertising purposes.

The material tells the brands that offered the music in a set with their products. For example, about Coca-Cola’s three-inch pop-track discs, as well as cassettes with hit lists in Kellogg’s breakfast boxes.

Eminem goes on IPO: what does it mean The year 2018 was a busy one for Eminem: he “released” the ninth album, “outraged” the current U.S. president and released stock exchange shares that reflect the rights to his work. We are looking into what may affect their value and how effective they are as an investment instrument.

No shots fired: audio projects where something went wrong. Sometimes companies have to freeze or completely curtail even very interesting and promising music technologies.

The article tells us about unsuccessful projects of both small start-ups and large companies – for example, wireless headphones Here One by Doppler Labs, digital format DAT by Sony, as well as media player Zune by Microsoft, which failed to “catch up” with the iPod.

As well as what pop artists borrowed from classical music. It turns out that modern musicians often borrow various techniques from “classics”. It can be both general harmonic constructions and direct references to whole works.

For example, Lady Gaga used an introduction from Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Bad Romance”, and rapper Nas made a reference to Beethoven’s “To Elise”.