Author

Ryan Feyre

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Date Information

May 2020

Department

Communications

First Advisor

Peter Kvetko

Abstract

The music industry has witnessed a rise in democracy in the 21st century, both in terms of how artists write and record their content, and how we as listeners consume it. The growing affordability of music technology over the past ten years has allowed artists to work in the confines of their own homes. Many musicians are now granted the opportunity to build their own fanbase without the help of a label, mainly through music chat channels. As a result, consumers acquire music from a variety of places (Limewire, Napster, and now, Spotify). Corporations have now seemingly convinced customers that Spotify is the best place for acquiring any music one could want. This was thanks to the many innovations in the early 2000s, as well as a group of people who wanted as much music as possible for free.

My objective in this thesis is to showcase the trends of the music consumption process, and how it has directly affected the streaming era. File-sharing and the development of the mp3 will be fully explored in relation to the democratization of music. I will gather information through various readings (Michael Ayers’ Cybersounds for example) and interviews with my peers at Salem State University. They’re the ones who grew up in the era of file-sharing. I will also use information from Slate’s Hit Parade podcast about the death of the single. These studies will assist with proving file-sharing’s impact on the industry.

With these various sources, I hope to find out who specifically was affected by the looming grasp of the music industry (lower class, media, etc.), as well as the full breadth of the industry’s impact (Kanye West and Theodore Adorno seem to think so). I specifically want to explore Napster’s impact on modern streaming, and how that era affected music democratization. Lastly, I will identify how these developments have influenced the artist’s creative process.

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