Sample Essay on How the Internet Has Affected the Music Industry (2023)

This MLA essay explores the effects that the internet has had on the music industry on both the large and small scale. This sample essay was written at the undergraduate level to serve as a sample for the Ultius blog.

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Effect of the Internet on the Music Industry

The internet has changed many industries as it has grown in popularity and accessibility. Millions of people are able to communicate, shop, and watch any movie they want from anywhere that has an available internet connection. Another industry that has undoubtedly been affected by the internet is the music industry, which has changed quite drastically over the past few decades. As technology continues to advance, the music industry is forced to adapt again and again. First, artists and others involved in the production of music were concerned about the affect file-sharing services like Napster and LimeWire would have on the profitability of their work (“How the Internet Has Changed Music”). Now, the main issue involving the internet and the music industry is music streaming like Spotify and Pandora and debates on how artists and labels should be paid in royalties. Still, the internet’s influence on the music industry has not been an entirely negative experience; it has provided several notable benefits as well.


One of the most obvious effects that the internet has had on music as a business is the impact on royalties that artists and those who work on their albums are making. The iTunes Music Store opened at the end of April in 2003. Between then and the iTunes Store’s tenth birthday, music sales in the United States have dropped almost five billion dollars; after adjustments are made for inflation, revenue has been cut by more than half (Covert). This is particularly frustrating for many artists because despite these numbers, people are buying more music than ever. This is happening because iTunes has popularized the cheaply priced digital single. Apple was able to initially offer individual tracks for ninety-nine cents and digital albums for only ten dollars.

People began buying music online like crazy and those sales overtook sales in CDs. Digital albums generating more than eight hundred million in sales during 2007 while CDs only generated five hundred million (Covert). Still, though, some say that royalties are not, in fact, too drastically affected by internet downloads or streaming. The chief executive of Music Managers Forum, Jon Webster, says, “any artist has to be on a streaming service now- it’s what consumers wants. It’s part of the future. And if you’re successful, you can still make a considerable amount of money from it.” (Wall). Still, the idea that artists do not receive royalties from streaming services like Spotify and Pandora is false. Spotify, for example, says that approximately seventy percent of its revenues from subscriptions and adverting are paid out to publishing companies, collecting societies, and record labels- the copyright holders of the music the program provides; Spotify estimates that they have paid out more than one billion dollars in royalties between 2008 and when the statement was made in 2013 (Wall).

Social media

A lot of communication these days is done through various social media outlets. As it changed the way we communicated, it changed the way we listen to music, too. MySpace was the first social media platform that provided users with an opportunity to follow their favorite musicians and discover new ones (Harrison). Though Facebook and Twitter have surpassed MySpace in terms of use, they both provide platforms through which fans can follow and communicate with artists and for those artists to share their music with their fans. YouTube has also made it possible for fans to watch music videos and listen to music for free rather than having to pay for it or rely on MTV (Harrison). Other similar services, like Spotify and Pandora, provide free music streaming that provides access with only a video connection and allows users to discover new artists that are similar to those they already like.

While it is clear that social media has affected the way we listen to music, it has changed the music industry in other ways, too. Twenty years ago, amateur musicians with high hopes of fames were forced to rely on music producers to listen to their demo tapes, the internet has made getting discovered much easier, giving power to the artist themselves rather than corporate bigwigs. The internet gives artist the power to produce their own music, upload it to the internet, and promote it however they want to. This has helped a number of artists be discovered by listeners and producers, and in some cases, get signed and discovered.

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Justin Bieber is a prime example of the power social media can have on an artist’s career. He uploaded videos of himself singing on YouTube and was discovered by Usher. Justin went from being relatively unknown to being one of the most famous musicians worldwide in only a couple of years (Alan). This is because social media has made it so that word-of-mouth is not just limited to the people we see regularly. A popular topic can start trending worldwide in a matter of hours or even minutes and countless people are able to find their fifteen minutes of fame much easier than they ever have before; in the case of artists like Justin Bieber, though, the fame lasts much longer than fifteen minutes. Artists who are able to master social media domains often find themselves doing incredibly well in a very short amount of time, presenting opportunities that were never available before.

Illegal downloading

Illegally downloading music is when a consumer downloads music without paying the artist or obtaining permission. In the late nineties, when file-sharing services began growing in popularity, many in the music business thought the entire industry was about to crumble. More and more people were able to access music that they did not have to pay for. A study done in 2007 by the Institute for Policy Innovation estimated that illegal music downloads were costing the United States economy more than twelve billion dollars per year (Wall). Record labels are no longer in control of distribution and labels have been forced to adapt in order to survive in the new face of the industry. On the other hand, though, artists are no longer at the mercy of record labels. They have access to new technology that empowers them to distribute and promote their music in a way they were never able to before, providing opportunities to reach and communicate with fans from Ethiopia to Portugal.

Before the turn of the millennium, Death Cab for Cutie was just one of countless indie-rock bands who, though signed to a minor record label, existed in general obscurity. They played mostly empty clubs for fifty dollars per night and did not garner a ton of support (Suddath). During the first couple of years of the twenty-first century, the band’s following steadily started growing and more and more people were coming to their shows with the same story; they had first heard the group’s songs on the internet. They caught the attention of the producers of The O.C. in 2003 without even having a website (Suddath). After thousands of illegal music downloads paved their way, Death Cab for Cutie has a gold album and worldwide name recognition.

This is surprising, as one would assume that illegal music downloading is harmful to the welfare of a musician’s career. However, the biggest problem any band has ever had in getting started is getting its music heard. TIME magazine explains, “For years, the music industry was confined to four multinational corporations that dominated the revenue stream of seventy percent of the music coming in, and four or five radio conglomerates that controlled what music was going out.

Now all that has been broken up unto millions and millions of little pieces and subcultures and niches that are serving small, really dedicated communities of music lovers.” (Suddath). While a consumer might not pay for their initial download of a song or album, if they like what they hear, they will follow the artist or band and become fans in the longer term. They are more likely to attend the band’s show, buy band merchandise, or buy more music in the future. If a band can establish a following, their fans will continue to want to hear new music that comes out or see the band in person. It could be worth letting consumers get whatever gets them hooked for free because their long-term devotion will lead to many money making opportunities in the future.

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Musicians' opinions

The opinion of musicians on whether or not the internet has been good for the music industry is mixed. The Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit presented a survey of almost three thousand musicians about how the internet had affected the music industry, particularly file sharing. Approximately thirty-five percent of the musicians surveyed felt that file-sharing services can be good for artists because they make it easier to promote themselves and distribute their work quickly; twenty-three percent said that file-sharing services are bad for musicians because they make it easy for other people to copy their work without their permission or any form of payment; and thirty-five percent of them agreed with both statements (“Artists, Musicians, and The Internet: Preliminary Data Memo”).

The musicians were also asked about the impact that free downloading on the internet has had on their music careers. Five percent of respondents felt that free downloading has exclusively damaged their career, thirty-five percent said that it has helped, eight percent responded that it has had a combined effect of the two; in addition, thirty-seven percent of those surveyed felt that free downloading had not made a notable impact on their music careers (“Artists, Musicians, and The Internet: Preliminary Data Memo”). The survey then asked the respondents if music sharing on the internet has made it harder for them to protect their music from piracy and illegal download. Results showed that sixteen percent of respondents felt that the internet has had a huge effect on their ability to protect their music from being pirated, twenty one percent said it had a small effect, and forty-one percent said that it has had no effect at all (“Artists, Musicians, and The Internet: Preliminary Data Memo”). Regardless of these results, the majority of those who responded to the survey feel that file-sharing over the Internet poses some kind of threat to the music industry.

In terms of providing free music themselves, though, most of the artists felt differently. Eighty-three percent of them have provided free samples of their music online’ the majority of those say that the free samples, which are most often given as free internet downloads, have helped them to sell CDs and increase concert ticket sales (“Artists, Musicians, and The Internet: Preliminary Data Memo”). It seems that many artists agree that free downloading is different when they are in control of providing the samples. In the same survey, almost seventy percent of musicians felt that the artist should have total control over their material once it is produced; comparatively, nearly thirty percent of respondents feel that the artist and copyright holder should have “some control” over the material while three percent feel that that person should hold “very little control” (“Artists, Musicians, and The Internet: Preliminary Data Memo”).


The internet has totally transformed several industries, including the music industry. The music scene was an entirely different place before the internet provided a new platform for sharing, buying, downloading, and promoting music. The many drastic changes have been mixed- while some things have negatively affected the way the industry works, it has also had many positive affects for consumers and artists alike. While the debate over whether the internet has been overall positive or negative, we can at least be assured that the industry will continue to adapt with technology.

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Works Cited

Alan, Tim. “How Social Media and the Internet Have Changed the Music Industry.” Business2Community. 19 Nov. 2014. Web. 15 Jul. 2016.

“Artists, Musicians, and The Internet: Preliminary Data Memo”. Future of Music. Future of Music Coalition, 2004. Web. 15 Jul. 2016.

Covery, Adrian. “A decade of iTunes singles killed the industry.” CNN Money. Cable News Network, 25 Apr. 2013. Web. 15 Jul. 2016

Harrison, Laura. “How has the Internet and Social Media Changed the Music Industry?” Socialnomics. 23 Jul. 2014. Web. 15 Jul. 2016.

“How the Internet Has Changed Music.” Recording Connection. Recording Connection, 2016. Web. 15 Jul. 2016.

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Suddath, Claire. “Greg Kot: How the Internet Changed Music.” TIME. Time Inc., 21 May 2009. Web. 16 Jul. 2016.,8599,1900054,00.html

Wall, Matthew. “Is streaming technology saving the music industry?” BBC News. BBC, 27 Jun. 2014. Web. 15 Jul. 2016.


How has the Internet affected the music industry essay? ›

The internet became advanced enough that users could share and download music online. Pirating music no longer demanded dubbing tapes and burning CDs. People could download virtually any song they wanted through file-sharing platforms — for free. This caused revenue in the music industry to plummet.

How does technology affect the music industry? ›

It has revolutionized the music industry for producers by allowing them to record, write, and produce high-quality songs. The music industry has significantly benefited from the widespread use of virtual studio technologies. It can be used to add software synthesizers and effects units to digital audio workstations.

What impact has the Internet had on the music business? ›

More Artist Penetration

The impact of streaming and social media on artist penetration has been phenomenal. Artists can interact directly with their audience, create songs and post to all streaming platforms without the help of a manager or record label.

How social media has affected music industry? ›

Social media connects fans to artists. Fans can comment, like, and share content, and may even have the opportunity to speak with their favorite artists through social media platforms. As one of the most powerful assets to using social media, artists can develop a stronger bond with their audience.

What is the biggest problem the music industry is facing? ›

Not Having Enough Money. The most common problem budding musicians face is trying to build a career but not bringing in enough money to do it the way they want.

What is the impact of Internet of things on industry? ›

Simply, IoT integrated assets provide real-time data information that allows the manufacturers to make informed decisions. The sensor devices provide valuable information regarding machine conditions, which is used for manufacturing analysis and predict better outcomes.

What is the biggest contribution of social media to the music industry? ›

Social media is one of the most important aspects of an artist's career. A musician's social media presence has the potential to make or break their career and allows for opportunity to form a real connection with fans and other musicians.

What are the factors affecting music? ›

Musical factors focus on the music itself, for example, the style of music, notations of the music piece, performance expression and interpretation. Extra-musical related factors describe the attributes of the performer and the listener, such as their personality, preferences, mental condition, mood and interaction.

How is Big Data changing the music industry? ›

Big data provides the music industry with a leg up on what people are listening to, and it doesn't only tell them what they're listening to; it can also tell them where, when, and how many times they've listened to a song or a genre.

What is the impact of music nowadays? ›

According to research, music has a significant impact on humans. It can potentially affect disease, depression, expenditure, productivity, and our outlook on life. The impact of music on our brain is being better understood thanks to advances in neuroscience and the examination of music's impact on the brain.

What is the most important and influential technological change to impact the music industry in the late 20th century? ›

Arguably the biggest game-changer has been the introduction of digital software into music production; allowing musicians of all abilities to write, record and produce their own songs to a reasonable quality – often from their bedrooms.

Did social media play an important role in the development of the music? ›

Musicians can create content from music videos, lyric videos, pictures, or skits to demonstrate their genre and personality. Creating content and distributing it is one of the most significant ways that social media remains a crucial place to be in the music industry.

How did TikTok impact the music industry? ›

Among TikTok's now 1 billion monthly active users, there is an entire music industry—where users preview albums to gauge consumer interest, create trends to new songs and even pay influencers to market those songs.

What are the biggest challenges facing the media industry? ›

These issues are: Media Audience Measurement – standardisation & methodologies for individual media channels cross platform. Recruitment & Retention – finding & retaining quality & relevant people resources. Keeping Up to Date – with constantly evolving market trends.

What are the three biggest obstacles that musicians complain? ›

Here we look at the three biggest obstacles standing between contemporary musicians and success.
Read on.
  1. Technology. I've worked with enough musicians to know that technology frustrates a lot of people – especially those over a certain age. ...
  2. Apathy. ...
  3. Mindset.
6 Dec 2018

How has the music industry been affected by the pandemic? ›

However, total monthly consumer spending on music has decreased by more than 45% compared to pre-pandemic, with live music events and physical sales most severely affected. In spite of the COVID-19 outbreak and the fundamental change from analog to digital music, spending on digital downloads has also decreased.

Which industry is most affected by Internet of Things? ›

Manufacturing. The manufacturing industry will be one of the industries that will be most heavily affected by the internet of things. Manufacturers across all areas including automotive and electronics have already invested in embedded devices to monitor equipment and assets.

What are the impact of internet on media? ›

The quality and variety of news items have also increased with greater information exchange via the internet. Journalists are also able to control the standards of their work through live comparison with other international media.

What industries have been affected by the internet? ›

6 Industries the Internet Has Destroyed
  • Book Stores. 21% of book stores have been in Jeopardy of closing since beginning of 2021. ...
  • Music. The way Americans intake music now has drastically shifted in the last decade. ...
  • Landlines. ...
  • Retail Stores. ...
  • Movie Theaters & Video Stores.
26 May 2021

What are the current trends in the music industry? ›

The continued rise of R&B and hip hop in popular music. Increased demand for lossless audio streaming. More artists reconsidering the importance of loudness and opting for less overcompression. Listeners are becoming increasingly less faithful to a single genre, and artists are following suit.

What is the status of the music industry? ›

Is the music recording industry growing? After nearly two decades of piracy-driven declines, the global music recording industry's revenue bottomed out at $14 billion in 2014. Since then, due in large part to streaming, revenue has grown to $20 billion in 2019, back in line with 2004 levels.

What are the 4 main areas of the music industry? ›

Key Takeaways

Currently, the four major record labels (known as the Big Four) are EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group. Indie record labels are smaller labels that operate without financial assistance from the Big Four and typically produce less commercially viable music.

What are the benefits of social media to the music industry? ›

Fans and artists are connected through Social Media platforms,which offer them the chance to comment, like, and share content, and they may even speak with their favourite artists. Artists using Social Media can develop stronger relationships with their fans as one of the strongest benefits of using it.

Who has the biggest impact on music? ›

Most Influential Musicians: 30 Artists Who Changed Music Forever
  • 8: Bob Marley. ...
  • 7: Kate Bush. ...
  • 6: Prince. ...
  • 5: Pink Floyd. ...
  • 4: Led Zeppelin. ...
  • 3: Jimi Hendrix. ...
  • 2: The Beatles. The Beatles have always been, and remain, a phenomenon. ...
  • 1: David Bowie. Nobody changed music as much as art rock chameleon David Bowie.
12 May 2021

Why social media is important to music artist? ›

Having a solid presence online is crucial for any artist to reach their target audience. Not only is social media a way for you to advertise your upcoming shows or promote your new album — it's how you build a lasting relationship with your supporters.

What influences the music we like? ›

6 Common Factors Influencing Your Music Preferences
  • Personality traits. People prefer styles of music that are consistent with their personalities. ...
  • Identity motive. Music is part of who we are. ...
  • Age. ...
  • Mood management. ...
  • The importance of context. ...
  • Exposure effects.
20 Sept 2019

What are cultural influences in music? ›

The relationship between music and culture is reciprocal. Cultural influences on music include factors such as migration, youth culture, and racial integration.

How music is affecting the youth? ›

Music, especially playing music, has so many benefits to teens, including improved academic behavior, a chance for self-expression and creativity, and positive social aspects.

How artificial intelligence is changing the music industry? ›

AI-powered algorithms are used to personalize recommendations, suggest new tracks, and create playlists. AI is also being used to improve the quality of streaming services. For example, AI-based tools can be used to identify and remove background noise, optimize bitrates, and reduce latency.

What will happen to the music industry in 2022? ›

Digital music distribution and white-label distribution platforms take the lead: While physical formats like vinyl records have experienced a revival during the past 12 months, 2022 is going to be the year where music distribution through digital channels will consolidate.

How music has affected my life essay? ›

To many, music is seen as the language of the universe. Therefore, when we don't have the right words to say, music speaks. We turn to music when we don't know how to express our feelings, don't have anyone to turn to, to help us through the tough times, or simply is just a form of therapy for our soul.

What is music essay? ›

Music is a pleasant sound which is a combination of melodies and harmony and which soothes you. Music may also refer to the art of composing such pleasant sounds with the help of the various musical instruments. A person who knows music is a Musician. The music consists of Sargam, Ragas, Taals, etc.

Why music is important in our life essay? ›

Music is one of the essential components in our lives. Music gives us entertainment and relaxation when we feel exhausted. The beautiful rhythm of Classical music not only can release our stress, but also can bring us pleasure. After a daylong study, I like to take a break to listen to some Pop melody by myself.

How did technology affect the 20th-century music? ›

Noisemakers were added, making the tone color of 20th-century music richer and more interesting. Harmonies became more dissonant and new chord structures were used. Composers were less interested in tonality; others completely discarded it. Rhythms were expanded and melodies had wider leaps, making music unpredictable.

What was the most important development that affected music during the 20th-century? ›

Unquestionably, the major new influence on 20th-century music performance was electronics. Broadcasting and recording widened even further the potential audience for concert artists, at the same time as they tended to decrease the physical necessity for large new public performance arenas.

How did technology affect the development of music through the Middle Ages? ›

During the Middle Ages, music notation was used to create a written record of the notes of plainchant melodies. During the Renaissance music era (c. 1400-1600), the printing press was invented, allowing for sheet music to be mass-produced (previously having been hand-copied).

How has the internet affected the music industry in MLA format? ›

They are offering information on how to get new music without permission from the artists. People go to free websites and download all the unlimited music they want for free. This is really hurting the artist themselves. Since so many people download free music.

How Tik Tok has affected the music industry? ›

Among TikTok's now 1 billion monthly active users, there is an entire music industry—where users preview albums to gauge consumer interest, create trends to new songs and even pay influencers to market those songs.

Is the internet helping or hindering musicians? ›

30% of all online artists and 45% of Paid Online Artists say the internet is important in helping them create and/or distribute their art. 23% of all online artists and 41% of Paid Online Artists say the internet has helped them in their creative pursuits and careers.

Is TikTok is changing the future of the music industry? ›

TikTok, owned by China's ByteDance, is turning the music business on its head by increasingly becoming a hit-making machine. Artists can go from obscurity to global superstardom, thanks to a viral video that could be posted by a complete stranger.

How important is TikTok for musicians? ›

TikTok has such a massive influence on the popularity of music that artists are going the extra mile to make their songs viral on it. For instance, most K-Pop artists today start TikTok dance challenges for their songs to reach more listeners and thus grow their fan base.

Why is TikTok good for promoting music? ›

The For You Page and “viral” songs

That video inspires the viewer and they want to make a similar video. Well, there's a simple way in TikTok to use that same audio clip when creating a new video. THIS is what drives the viral success of music on TikTok and makes music promotion on the platform so interesting.


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