Music streaming has played a part in the globalization of the way music is listened to online. Spearheaded by major market players, it is a direct response to the growth in music piracy in the 2000s. It is thus an example of how market logics are globalized, extending to all musical production, including in the global South, where major labels have started investing in domestic music industries. Its use of rating systems and recommendations does not, however, guarantee that musical works will circulate more freely around the world, as least not as far as the diversity of creation is concerned.
There are a number of different reasons why the digital music market sparked the interest of researchers in the early 2000s. The development of peer-to-peer networks prompted the belief that the emergence of more collaborative practices in the creation and promotion of music would provide a means of circumventing both the star system and the phenomenon of short-lived celebrities spawned by shows such as France’s Star Academy (Bourreau, Gensollen, and Moreau 2007). The proliferation of both pirated and online music may also symbolize the emergence of a “long tail” in the range of music available, a phenomenon predicted rather than demonstrated by Chris Anderson (2006) and linked to more diversified consumption as a result of recommendation systems. In time, greater standardization emerged, particularly with the advent of the iTunes Music Store (Beuscart 2007). This led to the gradual legalization of practices and market players’ acceptance of intermediaries to provide a bridge between supply and demand. But it is now time to question the effects of music streaming. While its success supports the growth of the recorded music market today, does it also contribute to promoting diverse musical creation? And what can be said about the effect of streaming on the globalization of music markets? Has it resulted in a more effective distribution of music?
The recorded music market peaked globally in 1999, and in 2002 in France. It then collapsed, mainly as a result of piracy, although there are other factors that explain the progressive loss of interest in CDs and the album format (Bourreau and Labarthe-Piol 2004)…
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