The Impact of the CD on the Music Business
The music industry was born more than one century ago, just when the advances in technology allowed men to record, store, play and reproduce sounds. But the invention of the compact disc (CD) was the greatest event of the 20th century for the music industry. From there, newer and bigger technological advances were made, advances which the music industry knew how to keep up with.
This great improvement managed to offer the possibility to reproduce music developed by artists and composers in a massive way, this industry constitutes a productive movement based on artistic activity. In this process, new forms of creation, production, commercialization, promotion and, distribution of music (either legal or illegal) made a whole, more complex and different scenario for the music industry.
A compact disc is an optic disc that stores data digitally. The CD is able to store any kind of file raging from audio files, video, documents, and other kinds of data. It was created by Kees Immink (Ireland) and Toshitada Doi (Japan) in the year 1979, they both worked for the Sony company, which launched the first CD player in October 1982.
The design of the compact disc is inspired in the diameter of the 10 cents florin from Holland. They were able to store up to 650 MB of information.
The success of the compact disc begins in 1981 when the orchestral conductor Herbert Von Karajan promoted it in the Salzburg Festival. The first recordings in Europe were the “Alpine Symphony” by Richard Strauss, some Frederich Chopin waltzes and the album “The Visitors” by ABBA.
The great debut of the compact disc in America was in 1985 with the album “Brothers in Arms” by Dire Straits, people started acquiring this new technology gradually and by 1988 the compact disc sales exceeded vinyl, and finally displaced the cassette in 1991.
The production of compact discs was mostly centralized in the United States and Germany; from there they were distributed worldwide. In the 90’s, more and more factories were installed in different countries, in 1992 Sonopress produced the first CD in Mexico “De mil colores” (A thousand colors) by Daniela Romo.
But in 1999 a website called Napster was launched and it changed the world forever. This service allowed the distribution of music files and it managed to have around 80 millions of users, shadowing other sites and software as LimeWire, uTorrent, and others. But Napster didn’t last long; it was shut down in 2001 after the rock metal band ‘Metallica’ sued the website for leaking the track “I Disappear” which was part of the “Mission Impossible 2” movie.
In 2001, the Apple Company created iTunes. In the beginning, it was only a music player available for MAC OS 9. Back then the world didn’t know that this was going to be the beginning of the end for the CD. Steve Jobs then created the iPod, a small device that worked with iTunes and reproduced the music people bought on iTunes. By 2005, iTunes exceeded CD sales in two physical stores for the first time.
Nowadays there are new ways to listen to music. With streaming platforms such as Spotify, in 2014 the incomes from streaming exceeded the sales of CD for the first time, and they did the same with the digital downloads.
History indicates that record companies have been able to overcome the challenges posed by technological change in the past, showing a great capacity for learning related to the absorption of technological change that they must face in order to be leaders in this field and demonstrate to the market that music must continue its progress with the tools that the future holds.
Jose Carlos (for Music Interval Theory Academy)