Transition Music Corporation | What Digital Publishing Has Learned From Digital Music
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What Digital Publishing Has Learned From Digital Music

What Digital Publishing Has Learned From Digital Music

Swimming in music’s wake: The publishing industry can take a few pointers from its aural colleagues
By Joshua Benton
September 28, 2012
From the Chicago Tribune


While it’s hard to think of a content-producing industry that hasn’t been profoundly affected by the rise of digital technology, the businesses that create books and music have confronted very different realities.

Book publishing has a number of advantages over its musical brethren. Its customers tend to be a bit older and better off than the recording industry’s, which has helped keep piracy mostly under control. And music’s timing was off: Until iTunes came along in 2003, there were plenty of ways to get digital music for free, but no appealing platforms that let you pay for it. E-books, on the other hand, have reached the mainstream baked into payment platforms: Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Apple’s iBooks.

But what publishing is figuring out is that digital disruption affects more than just an industry’s business model. It shakes up every stage of the craft: creation, distribution, discovery and consumption.

…The music business is evolving. Even though people don’t buy jewel cases at the rate they once did, more albums are released each day now than 10 years ago — and that’s not counting the vast seas of music produced and distributed online that doesn’t fit into the traditional definition of an album.

“When the recording industry says ‘If you don’t support us, you won’t have music,’ that’s patently false,” said Jonathan Sterne, a professor at McGill University and author of the new book “MP3: The Meaning of a Format.” “Music existed for a long time before the recording industry came along. It’s a little blip in human history. People will find a way to make music.”

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