Dissertation Brief 2 – Introduction and Chapter Overview

‘The creating and consuming of music in the digital age’ –

 Have new technologies been positive or negative for music?

This dissertation will be focused on the impact technology has had on music.  From music editing software through to social media, this piece of writing will attempt to cover all important technological advancements that have impacted the world of music.  These advancements have changed the way in which people develop, create, consume, share and value music so it is easy to see why this topic is of great importance in understanding the modern world of music.

From this topic, readers can learn why the music business is how it is today and how it differs from the old model.  Readers will learn how the power of the big companies has been somewhat lost to the public and how releasing and accessing music is easier than ever and the effects this has had.  This research topic can be taken many different ways as technology is always expanding.  Day by day, new advancements are being made and for anyone interested in music, whether it is business or simply listening and playing, it is useful to understand what is going on around them.

The way this dissertation will be presented is as follows:

Chapter One:  Where was music before the digital revolution? 

This will include an overview of the way the music business worked before what is now known as the digital revolution took over.  ‘The Music Industry’ by Patrik Wikstrom is a good book to reference for this chapter.  It talks directly about the digital revolution and how the industry has dealt with it, or failed to in some opinions.  This chapter is a brief reminder of how things were and how things changed.

Chapter Two: The Internet

Perhaps the biggest factor in this entire topic, the internet has revolutionised the world.  In term of music, it changed everything.  As it is such a wide topic, this chapter will be split into sub sections.

Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MySpace and so on, social media is an incredibly powerful weapon in any musician’s arsenal.  In the modern day, it is essential for any musician to work on these platforms.  It keeps them in constant contact with their fans and allows them to share anything new that is happening at the click of a button.  It is also useful for promoters, venues, managers and more.  Social media has been rising for years and it looks like its power will only continue to grow.  The book Social Media and Music: The Digital Field of Cultural Production by H. Cecilia Suhr should be useful for this.

Downloading and Streaming – Napster, Limewire, Pirate Bay, Spotify and the hundreds of other downloading and streaming services that have allowed consumers to access music for free are important to include in this research topic.  Illegal downloading and free streaming of music has had a huge impact on big record companies and on musicians themselves.  Some have shown their support for it and embraced it whilst others have lashed out against it.  It is a heated debate that has been going on for years.  A good book for this chapter is Fortune’s Fool by Fred Goodman.  This book focuses on the crisis the music industry faced when the internet appeared.

Online Audio Platforms – This refers to sites such as Soundcloud, Reverbnation, YouTube and CD Baby.  This section will look at how easy it now is for anybody to share their music with the world and how it can sometimes lead to major success.  Of course, this can cross over with the social media section as all of these websites can be linked together.  This is a massive difference from the old model where the music heard was largely controlled by the big companies.  These sites have made it possible for anyone to share music and as a result, there is far more music in the world than ever before.

Chapter 3: Music Editing Software

The way in which music is recorded and mixed nowadays is far more advanced than ever before.  This chapter will cover the pros and cons of programs such as Pro Tools and focus on how recording music has become much easier at times.  Other focuses may be auto tune and pitch corrector and how these enhancers have impacted music.  An article by Lessley Anderson from the website ‘The Verge’ may be helpful here.  It talks about auto tune and ‘fake’ artists.


Chapter 4: Music on the Go

This chapter is going to be about how music is available nearly anywhere and anytime.  Main points of focus will be portable devices such as iPods and mobile phones and wifi (again linking with the internet chapter).

Chapter 5: Live Music

This chapter will question how the digital revolution has affected live music.  Many people see no need to go to a gig when they can listen to the artist for free at home or better yet, stream the performance online.  Other people still go to gigs but are more interested in capturing the whole performance on their mobile phones and uploading it to the internet than actually watching the show.  This chapter aims to unfold the current state of live music.  There are plenty of articles that can be referenced when it comes to this topic.


The aim of this dissertation is to answer whether or not people have become more productive and creative as a result of technological advancements in music, or if it has made people lazier.  It is designed to answer whether or not a world with far more music is a good thing, or if it was better when there was less music but musicians had to prove themselves to be heard, and as a result ‘better’ music was heard.  These types of questions are completely two sided and there is no ‘right’ answer for them as such, but this research is designed to give readers a stronger knowledge of the subject.



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