Weekend Reading: Audio Digest of Streaming Services and the Music Industry

For the "weekend reading", we picked up materials on the records of the music charts, the triumphant return of the Winamp media player and how the audio formats have changed over the past 100 years.

Photo Luca Bravo / Unsplash

History of the music industry

  • This is a hit: the history and records of music charts. The first musical hit parade Hot 100 appeared in 1955 in the American magazine Billboard. Today, charts have become an integral part of the industry – they are newspapers, websites, streaming services and online stores. In the article, we recall the history of the development of charts, and also talk about their record holders. In particular, Elvis Presley, who lasted 79 weeks in the top, and musicians whose singles soared from the bottom of the chart to the first line in one week (Britney Spears and Kelly Clarkson).

  • From critics to algorithms: the fading voice of elites in the world of music. For a long time, the opinion of music critics was of great importance. Experts actually controlled public tastes. But today their opinion is becoming less and less valuable; playlists and algorithms of streaming services have replaced critics. We decided to tell how it happened. This article is the first part of a series of materials about the music industry.

  • From critics to algorithms: labels, corporations, and 20th-century music culture. Industrialization has seriously affected the balance of power in the industry: the leading role in shaping the musical agenda has moved from cultural elites to corporations. We tell how this fact affected academic music, pop music and show business.

  • From critics to algorithms: how democracy and technocracy came to the music industry. This is the final material of the cycle. We understand how music was transformed under the influence of technology. We are talking about the success of MTV (which was originally considered a failed idea), social. Last.fm networks and streaming services like Spotify.

  • Birth and death of an album: how formats have changed over the past 100 years. In the first half of the 20th century, the music industry was significantly different from the modern one. The main musical format of the time was vinyl records with albums – holistic and conceptual works. For example, the work “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts ’Club Band at The Beatles had seamless transitions between songs. But the commercialization of music led to the fact that in the 80s albums lost popularity. The industry has focused on producing singles. In the article we discuss why this happened.

About streaming services

  • In Canada, proposed to introduce a tax on streaming – what is the problem. The Guild of Telecomputers of Canada proposed to legalize the collection for Internet users who consume more than 15 GB of traffic per month. The initiative was not approved, but we decided to figure out what the “salt” of such a tax is and whether similar cases exist in other countries.

  • EU approves Copyright Directive – platforms against. By law, streaming platforms must implement content filters that prohibit users from uploading unlicensed content to the site. Musicians and labels supported the new directive, but representatives of the IT industry say that implementing such a function in practice is more difficult than it seems at first glance. The article considers the views of both parties.

  • What is the essence of the conflict between the two most famous streaming companies. Spotify and Apple have been waging a "war of war" for several years. This spring, the conflict escalated when a Swedish streaming service lodged a complaint with the European Commission against the apple. Spotify said the US corporation is discriminating against competitor apps on the AppStore. We consider claims against Apple: from unfair taxes to difficulties in updating services.

  • SoundCloud History: From Idea to 10th Anniversary of the Project. We recall the history of the music service, which is now used by more than 40 million people. The article is a chronological material: from the inception of the idea of ​​the site and the first investments in 2008 to the successful exit from the crisis in the summer of 2017.

  • How an IT company struggled to sell music. In 1981, Apple was told that they would never “touch” the music market. But twenty years later, they broke their promise by announcing iTunes. This move caught the attention of another company with an apple on the logo. It's about Apple Corps media conglomerate. A lawsuit ensued between the companies, which “divided” the sphere of influence of the two firms.

Photo Fleur / Unsplash

  • Tighten the nuts: Spotify stopped working with the authors directly. In 2018, the streaming service began making direct deals with musicians bypassing labels. But less than a year later, the site decided to block access to a feature that allowed authors to upload tracks to the service on their own. We explain why Spotify management abandoned the idea of ​​democratizing the platform and how the musicians reacted to it.

  • For every taste: streaming services for listening to music. This is our review of popular services that will help you choose a platform based on your needs. We rated the sites according to the most common criteria: the possibility of free listening, the volume of the library, the cost of a subscription and the availability of thematic playlists (for example, for running).

  • Winamp is back – discussing whether he has a chance in the era of streaming. In 2018, after a five-year hiatus, the Radionomy developers announced Winamp 6. According to the company's plan, the application will become an aggregator of streaming services, podcasts and audio books. We figure out whether the project has prospects and whether it can withstand Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer.

  • Now streaming services in the US will pay musicians more. A year ago, the United States passed a law that would settle the issue of royalties for musicians from streaming venues. Now the “fees” will be established by a special state body. At the same time, the new law will oblige streaming services to pay songwriters written between 1923 and 1972. Previously, holders of the rights to these works did not receive money. The law comes into force on January 1, 2020 – in the article we discuss the reaction of the community: politicians, musicians and labels.


  • A plate as a gift or free music for lovers of cola and ready breakfasts. A few years ago, a music record or cassette was available for free. They were presented by sellers of audio equipment and large corporations for advertising purposes. In the material we speak of brands that offered music complete with their products. For example, about three-inch CDs with pop tracks from Coca-Cola, as well as cassettes with hit collections in Kellogg’s breakfast boxes.

  • Eminem goes on IPO: what does it mean. Eminem had a busy year in 2018: he “released” the ninth album, “slammed” the current president of the United States and issued stock-exchange shares that reflect the rights to his work. We understand what can affect their value and how effective they are as an investment tool.

Photo Zach Vessels / Unsplash

  • Not fired: audio projects in which something went wrong. Sometimes companies are forced to freeze or completely collapse even very interesting and promising music technologies. In the article, we talk about unsuccessful projects of both small startups and large companies – for example, Here One wireless headphones from Doppler Labs, Sony's digital DAT format, and also Microsoft's Zune media player, which failed to “catch up” with the iPod.

  • How and what did pop artists borrow from classical music. It turns out that modern musicians often borrow various tricks from the "classics". These can be either general harmonic constructions or direct references to entire works. For example, Lady Gaga in the song “Bad Romance” used the introduction from the work of Johann Sebastian Bach, and rapper Nas made a reference to Beethoven’s composition “To Elise”.

  • What the Beatles, Radiohead and Doors borrowed from classical composers. We continue to recall musical groups that, one way or another, work with classical material. Let's talk about The Beatles, who used part of the “Moonlight Sonata” in their song “Because”, as well as Radiohead, who built “Exit Music” on Chopin's Prelude No. 4.

More featured selections from our blog:

“Rhythm games worth knowing”: which projects put on sound and made it part of the genre
“Read if you like to listen”: books for those who are not indifferent to music

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