isn’t alone with its business model. Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Sony also have self-publishing platforms, but there are differences. With Smashwords, authors set their own retail price. Smashword’s rivals set prices and commissions. And, Coker notes, the Smashwords focus is solely on selling ebooks, not on conversions to multiple platforms and attendant formatting complications.

With Smashwords it’s only days to move a book to retail availability after the manuscript arrives over the transom. With new in-house coding, Coker says, the lag will be down to minutes. As with Amazon and other ebook retailers, there is no editing service. Coker says his low-overhead business model is to “live and die” by author sales. Smashwords does, however, run manuscripts through a plagiary-check software to assure original content. One downside is that Smashwords’ ebooks carry no encryption, which facilitates thieves who ignore intellectual property rights under copyright law.

What of the future of ink-on-paper books? Coker’s been a bookworm going back to pre-digital times. His home library’s shelves would do a 20th century scholar proud, but being a 21st century guy, Coker is shipping his collection off a few dozen at a time to used book dealers. He may need to move more quickly, however. With the conversion of old titles into ebooks, there are fewer used book dealers out there.

Writing Prompt Applying Your Media Literacy – Ink-on-Paper Industries

What do you think may have been responsible for the surge in sales in the ink-on- paper industries, particularly of adult coloring books? Why are audiobooks even more attractive to avid readers than e-books? Why do you think they appeal to so many people? What is the reason, in your view, that e-books sales are declining, even though they can be accessed on so many devices?

The response entered here will appear in the performance dashboard and can be viewed by your instructor.


5.4 Sound Media Industries

Study Preview Internet technology has drastically altered the landscape of the music recording and radio industries. Music retailing has withered in the face of downloading, and the recording industry has imploded. Artists can now successfully release and market their recordings and music videos on the Net. This allows them to bypass the recording contracts that tied them long term to music corporations and severely cut into their earnings and royalties. The original U.S. radio system of government- licensed local terrestrial stations is losing listeners to satellite services and streaming radio. Computers, tablets, and cell phones allow listeners to download music at a nominal cost and to create their own music playlists. Online music services permit listening but not downloading favorite songs.

Learning Objectives By the end of this module you will be able to:

  1. 5.4.1 Evaluate the results of music industry convergence
  2. 5.4.2 Explain how online file swapping changed the music industry
  3. 5.4.3 Describe the evolution of the radio industry

5.4.1 Recording 1. Objective: Evaluate the results of music industry convergence

Roughly two decades after Thomas Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877 and Emile Berliner ability to mass produce recorded music in 1895, a sudden U.S. dance craze solidified a market for recorded music. In the next decade, recorded music became a component of programming in the emerging commercial radio industry. Those captivated by the Roaring Twenties became a captive audience for this music

frenzy. Airplay boosted record sales. Gradually there developed a symbiotic financial relationship between the recording and radio industries. Recording companies were pleased to provide their records free to radio stations. In effect, it was free advertising. Radio stations were pleased to fill airtime with free content.

Corporate Consolidation In the 1920s, the mass-marketing of music quickly led to an identifiable recording industry. By creating hit recordings that shaped popular music, the industry came to dominate music. The lure of growing profits led to mergers and acquisitions—and eventually, corporate consolidations into a fewer major recording companies. Currently, the structure and practices of the biggest companies are characteristic of oligopolies.

Until 2012, the music industry had been dominated by four major recording companies— EMI, Sony, Universal, and Warner. The so-called Big Four, each part of a larger media conglomerate, held 84% of the U.S. market and 75% of the global market. In 2012, mergers and consolidation of the major labels turned the Big Four into the Big Three. Universal Music Group took over EMI’s recording division, and the other two mega-labels split the rest of EMI. Sony Music Group assumed control of EMI’s publishing arm, and Warner Music Group absorbed Parlaphone and Virgin Classic labels.

Significantly, the Big Three began to acquire stakes in the online/streaming music startups. In October 2014, Warner Music Group sealed a deal with the financially troubled SoundCloud of Germany and bought a 5% share of the company. As of May 2015, the Big Three had acquired shares, collectively, ranging from 10% to 20% of streaming startups, including Spotify and Radio. The Big Three get to play their music via streaming services and have the option to later carve out a bigger stake in those services at a discounted rate later on. They have also cut deals with other startups, such as music video giants Interlude and Shazam. A very important thing to note here is that like in other media industries, convergence of music to other Internet- based platforms has resulted in widespread streaming on computers, tablets, phones, and other devices. The Big Three know that if they want to stay financially viable, they need to tap into those target markets who have migrated online for their radio listening.

Although the music recording industry has long been dominated by major companies, lesser companies, called indies, have always held small markets segments. When an

indie hits it big, however, a major company inevitably gobbles it up. Such was the case with Motown, which operated as a successful indie for three decades with its inimical Detroit sound. In fact, Motown grew into the largest black-owned U.S. business. But after a 31-year run, Motown founder Berry Gordy sold Motown for $61 million in 1988 to MCA, a major at the time. Now both MCA and Motown are part of Universal.

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