Reluctantly virtual : modelling copyright industry dynamics
Wikstrom, Patrik (2006) Reluctantly virtual : modelling copyright industry dynamics. PhD thesis, Karlstad University, Sweden.
During the evolution of the music industry, developments in the media environment have required music firms to adapt in order to survive. Changes in broadcast radio programming during the 1950s; the Compact Cassette during the 1970s; and the deregulation of media ownership during the 1990s are all examples of changes which have heavily affected the music industry. This study explores similar contemporary dynamics, examines how decision makers in the music industry perceive and make sense of the developments, and reveals how they revise their business strategies, based on their mental models of the media environment.
A qualitative system dynamics model is developed in order to support the reasoning brought forward by the study. The model is empirically grounded, but is also based on previous music industry research and a theoretical platform constituted by concepts from evolutionary economics and sociology of culture. The empirical data primarily consist of 36 personal interviews with decision makers in the American, British and Swedish music industrial ecosystems. The study argues that the model which is proposed, more effectively explains contemporary music industry dynamics than music industry models presented by previous research initiatives.
Supported by the model, the study is able to show how “new” media outlets make old music business models obsolete and challenge the industry’s traditional power structures. It is no longer possible to expose music at one outlet (usually broadcast radio) in the hope that it will lead to sales of the same music at another (e.g. a compact disc).
The study shows that many music industry decision makers still have not embraced the new logic, and have not yet challenged their traditional mental models of the media environment. Rather, they remain focused on preserving the pivotal role held by the CD and other physical distribution technologies.
Further, the study shows that while many music firms remain attached to the old models, other firms, primarily music publishers, have accepted the transformation, and have reluctantly recognised the realities of a virtualised environment.
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