In 2000, 92% of the music industry’s revenues came from the sales of CDs. A decade later, revenues were down by 50% and CDs provided less than half of that much smaller pie. It would be simplistic to say that the Internet caused this disruption. In fact, there were advances in a wide variety of computing and communications technologies that drove this seismic change.
But the music business of 2010 retained one fundamental similarity to the one that had existed for decades. The main source of revenues was selling audio recordings—songs and albums—to music fans, although those recordings were embodied as digital files consisting of ones and zeros rather than discs or tapes.
Now the rapid growth around the world of music subscription services has finally returned the industry to growth. This sea change—like the one for downloads— is being driven by advances in a wide variety of technologies.
We’ll discuss this twenty year plus interplay between digital technologies and the music experience and how the industry is adapting—yet again—to a new reality.
Howie Singer is a Special Technology Advisor to the Digital Strategy team at Universal Music Group and is a leading expert on the implications of new technologies for the music industry. He previously worked at Warner Music Group as the Chief Strategic Technologist helping to analyze new models and services that could enhance or threaten WMG’s businesses.
He has played a leading role in the transition from physical products to digital music delivery for the past 20 years. In 1996, he co-founded a2b music; a pioneering digital distribution service using audio and security technologies from AT&T.
Before joining the music business, Howie had a 20-year career at Bell Labs, and led teams developing retail and call center management software, speakerphones, cellular phones, and videophones.
Howie received Ph.D. (’79) and M.S. (’77) degrees in Operations Research from Cornell and a B.S. degree in Computer Science/Math from Stony Brook.
Howie Singer M.S. ’77, Ph.D. ’79 ORIE
Special Technology Advisor, Digital Strategy Team, Universal Music Group
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