Monday, 6 July 2015

Music Streaming: A Global Perspective

In his lengthy blog post unpacking the global streaming market in 2014, Peter Tschmuck analyses music streaming trends across different nations.

He argues that 'Scandinavia is the music streaming mecca of the world'.

Though this might not come as a surprise, the article highlights how there are multiple ways to look at the same data, with different countries coming out 'on top' in different scenarios.

This notion of perspective underscores much of the discussion on this blog.

Tweats @musicpiracyblog

Friday, 26 June 2015

Recommended books: a summary

It has been a while since I recommended some books, so get your reading list in early for your summer holidays.

Some suggested works include: Hinduja's 2006 title 'Music Piracy and Crime Theory'; Tapscott and Williams' account of crowdsourcing 'Macrowikinomics' (2010); David's systematic 'Peer to Peer and the Music Industry' (2010); Bently et al.'s critical 'Copyright and Piracy: An Interdisciplinary Critique' (2010); Higgins and Marcum's criminological text 'Digital Piracy: An Integrated theoretical approach' (2011); Kernfeld's historical account of music piracy 'Pop Song Piracy: Disobedient Music Distribution Since 1929' (2011); Byrne's music industry insider opus 'How Music Works' (2012); Elkin-Koren and Salzberger's review of the digital economy 'The Law and Economics of Intellectual Property in the Digital Age' (2013); and Wikstrom's comprehensive overview of the multifaceted music industry in 'The Music Industry: Music in the Cloud' (2013).

Should keep you busy.

Tweet n' greet @musicpiracyblog


Bently, L., Davis, J. and Ginsburg, J.C. (Eds.). (2010). Copyright and Piracy: An Interdisciplinary Critique. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Byrne, D. (2012). How Music Works. Edinburgh, Scotland: Canongate.

David, M. (2010). Peer to Peer and the Music Industry. London, England: Sage.

Elkin-Koren, N. and Salzberger, E.M. (2013). The Law and Economics of Intellectual Property in the Digital Age. New York, NY: Routledge.

Higgins, G.E. and Marcum, C.D. (2011). Digital Piracy: An Integrated Theoretical Approach. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.

Hinduja, S. (2006). Music Piracy and Crime Theory. El Paso, TX: LFB Scholarly Publishing LLC.

Kernfeld, B. (2011). Pop Song Piracy: Disobedient Music Distribution Since 1929. Chigago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

Tapscott, D. and Williams, A.D. (2010). Macrowikinomics. London, England: Atlantic Books.

Wikstrom, P. (2013). The Music Industry: Music in the Cloud (2nd edition). Cambridge, England: Polity Press.

Monday, 22 June 2015

New special issue of the journal 'Popular Communication' on Piracy

This one slipped past me.

From February 2015, the journal Popular Communication: The International Journal of Media and Culture published a special issue titled 'Piracy and Social Change'. You can access it here.

Haven't had time to read it yet, but it looks exciting; the reach is considerable, exploring a variety of research areas. There are also some familiar names from past entries on this blog.

Tweets @musicpiracyblog

Friday, 12 June 2015

New book on technology and youth culture

I recently reviewed a book titled 'Mediated Youth Cultures: The Internet, Belonging and New Cultural Configurations', edited by Andy Bennett and Brady Robards. It's great.

You can access my review here and purchase the book here.

To paraphrase the review, the book finds that the internet plays a positive role in youth culture, and the eclectic variety of contributions from different authors sheds light on some very specific aspects of mediated youth culture. These chapters are categorised under the following headings: Online and offline identities; Engagement and creativity; and Bodies, spaces and places.

Three of the five chapters on 'Engagement and creativity' concern music. Of interest, Raphael Nowak highlights how different types of technology can complement each other, with different technologies meeting different preferences. He explains: The reception of music is currently characterised by a multiplication and coexistence of various music artefacts that all possess their own features and characteristic forms of appeal for listeners’ (p. 150).

The book, overall, comes highly recommended (in case that was not already obvious).

Twauts @musicpiracyblog


Brown, S.C. (2015). Mediated Youth Cultures: The Internet, Belonging and New Cultural Configurations [Review of the book Mediated Youth Cultures: The Internet, Belonging and New Cultural Configurations, by A. Bennett and B. Robards (eds.)]. Popular Music, 34(2), 349-351.

Bennett, A. and Robards, B. (Eds.). (2014). Mediated Youth Cultures: The Internet, Belonging and New Cultural Configurations. Hampshire, England: Palgrave Macmillan.

Nowak, R. (2014). Understanding Everyday Uses of Musical Technologies in the Digital Age. In A. Bennett and B. Robards (Eds.), Mediated Youth Cultures: The Internet, Belonging and New Cultural Configurations (pp. 146-164). Hampshire, England: Palgrave Macmillan.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Recommended reading on: legal and philosophical underpinnings of digital piracy

Given the ultimate aim of this web resource is to encourage independent reading on various aspects of digital piracy, this entry marks the first in a new occasional series on recommended reading. First up, legal and philosophical underpinnings of digital piracy.

Edwards et al. (2013) provide an excellent overview of legal aspects of digital piracy, including arguments for copyright reform. Awarded the 'Best of the Web thought leader awards' by both Business Week and Forbes, Techdirt, founded by Michael Masnick (who features prominently on music piracy research blog) provides an influential and critical commentary on 'government policy, technology, and legal issues. Established in 2002, the website musiclawupdates is also a recommended resource on legal issues.

Also, check out Pykalainena et al. (2009) provide a good overview of the open source movement philosophy in practical terms. Hardy's 2012 book 'Download! How the internet transformed the record business' covers recent laws such as HADOPI in some detail. Bainbridge (2009) provides an excellent overview of intellectual property, encompassing digital piracy.

Tweat @musicpiracyblog


Bainbridge, D.I. (2009). Intellectual Property (7th edition). Harlow, England: Pearson Education Limited.

Edwards, L., Klein, B., Lee, D., Moss, G., Philip, F, (2013). Framing the consumer: Copyright regulation and the public. Convergence, 19(1), 9-24.

Hardy, P. (2012). Download! How the internet transformed the record business. London, England: Omnibus Press.

Pykalainena, T., Yang, D. and Fang, T. (2009). Alleviating piracy through open source strategy: An exploratory study of business software firms in China. Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 18(4), 165-177.

Friday, 29 May 2015

A closer look at Black Francis' comments on streaming vs. i-Tunes

On Thursday, NME reported on Pixies frontman Black Francis preferred the convenience of streaming over i-Tunes, something that many people will agree with.

Regarding the financial side of things, he explains: "I've got my T-shirt money, I've got my concert ticket money, I've got my commercial usage money. It's no different than when I started out".

"Where is my Spotify password?"

Insights like this from musicians are a dime-a-dozen. You will have read something similar recently, from someone else. And what do they all have in common? They are all successful.

Research is clear that fan loyalty plays a big role in encouraging legal sales of music, and Pixies are not without fans. They are also, of course, a principally live band: it is in the live music sector where most musicians now make the majority of their earnings, especially popular bands, who are able to effectively give away music for free as a means to motivate ticket sales.

But what about the little guy?

Musicians Union (2012), who represent over 30,000 musicians in UK, reveals that 78% of musicians earn less than £20,000 per year. And Mulligan (2014) reports that just 1% of musicians in fact account for 77% of all recorded music revenues.

It's these guys, the 1%, who people think of when they argue that 'musicians are filthy rich' as a means to justify engaging in music piracy. Not the majority, and not the next generation of musicians, which is of course where the music industry has its sights set at all times.

The Rolling Stones won't be around forever. Probably.

To dig into more research then, Piolatto and Schuett (2012) find that piracy harms some, but not all artists, even being beneficial in some instances; they argue that it is particularly so for popular musicians, when side revenues are taken into consideration (think of Black Francis' comments on 't-shirts' and 'concert ticket money', for instance).

It doesn't apply to smaller, unknown artists (though they do find that whilst piracy reduces recorded music sales for smaller bands, it increases live performances).

Now, this is but one study, but much else has been said on this, including some three years ago now on this humble blog, making the important observation overall that:

What works best for a musician in the contemporary digital climate differs across the artist life-cycle.

For now, bear in mind that when a high-profile musician rhymes off about how they don't care about money, the wider context is that much more complicated. 

Tweaks @musicpiracyblog


Piolatta, A. and Schuett, F. (2012). Music piracy: A case of "The Rich Get Rich and the Poorer Get Poorer". Information Economics and Policy, 24(1), 30-39.

Friday, 22 May 2015

The commercial and aesthetic power of musical artwork

Hop on over to The Conversation website to read a short article of mine titled 'Stanley Donwood, Radiohead and the power of musical artwork'. In it, I provide a commentary on the role of art in the world of recorded music, from that ole cover of Sgt. Pepper's and beyond.

The emphasis is on Radiohead's artistic muse Stanley Donwood, whose contributions are woven into the process of recording the music itself. Other acts such as Nine Inch Nails have resident artistic directors, whilst many choose to work collaboratively with regular artists, as do Tool with Alex Grey.

But why?

If music is art, then what is the point of musical artwork?

The article covers music videos, album covers, and assorted miscellany whilst discussing the likes of Bjork in the process.

Check it out.

Twanks @musicpiracyblog 


Brown, S.C. (2015). Stanley Donwood, Radiohead and the power of musical artwork. Guest contribution to The Conversation (Aus) website.