Structural change in the music industry
: the evolving role of the musician

  • Richard James Burgess

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The recording industry is little more than one hundred years old. In its short history there have been many changes that have redefined roles, enabled fortunes to be built and caused some to be dissipated. Recording and delivery formats have gone through fundamental conceptual developments and each technological transformation has generated both positive and negative effects. Over the past fifteen years technology has triggered yet another large-scale and protracted revision of the business model, and this adjustment has been exacerbated by two serious economic downturns. This dissertation references the author’s career to provide context and corroboration for the arguments herein. It synthesizes salient constants from more than forty years’ empirical evidence, addresses industry rhetoric and offers methodologies for musicians with examples, analyses, and codifications of relevant elements of the business. The economic asymmetry of the system that exploits musicians’ work can now be rebalanced. Ironically, the technologies that triggered the industry downturn now provide creative entities with mechanisms for redress. This is a propitious time for ontologically reexamining music business realities to determine what is axiological as opposed to simply historical axiom. The primary objective herein is to contribute to the understanding of applied fundamentals, the rules of engagement that enable aspirants and professionals alike to survive and thrive in this dynamic and capricious vocation. The secondary goal is to empower creative practitioners to circumvent systemic injustices that have been perpetrated and perpetuated by the oligopolistic market conditions that have prevailed for most of the century of recorded sound.
    Date of AwardMar 2010
    Original languageEnglish


    • music industry
    • musicians
    • recording industry

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