The music business is made up of those who make money composing songs and other musical compositions, producing and selling recorded music and sheet music, organizing concerts, and organizations that support, educate, advocate for, and supply music makers. The following are just a few of the numerous people and businesses that make up the music business: songwriters and composers who create songs and musical compositions; singers, musicians, conductors, and bandleaders who perform the music; record labels, music publishers, recording studios, music producers, audio engineers, retail and digital music stores, and performance rights organizations who create and sell recorded music and sheet music; booking agents, promoters, musicians, and musicians’ unions who manage the business of selling music; and booking agents
A wide variety of experts that help singers and musicians with their musical careers are also part of the business. The people who broadcast audio or visual music content (satellite, Internet radio stations, broadcast radio and TV stations) are among these, along with talent managers, artists and repertoire managers, business managers, entertainment lawyers, DJs, music educators and teachers, musical instrument manufacturers, and many others. Organizations, such as musicians’ unions (such as the American Federation of Musicians), non-profit performance-rights groups (such as the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers), and other associations, play a significant role in addition to businesses and artists (e.g. International Alliance for Women in Music, a non-profit organization that advocates for women composers and musicians).
Between the 1930s and 1950s, when recordings overtook sheet music as the most significant product in the music industry, the contemporary Western music industry was born. The term “the recording industry,” which refers to the process of recording musical performances and disseminating the recordings, started to be used interchangeably with “the music industry” in the business sector. Three large corporate labels—the French-owned Universal Music Group, the Japanese-owned Sony Music Entertainment, and the US-owned Warner Music Group—control the bulk of the music market in the 2000s. Independent labels are those that are not affiliated with these three big companies (or “indies”). Live Nation, the biggest promoter and owner of music venues, has the most power over the live music business for concerts and tours. The biggest owner of radio stations in the US, iHeartMedia Inc., formerly had a subsidiary called Live Nation.
With the introduction of extensive digital music distribution over the Internet in the early 2000s, the music business faced significant changes (which includes both illegal file sharing of songs and legal music purchases in online music stores). Total music sales are an obvious sign of these changes: since 2000, live music has become more significant while sales of recorded music have drastically decreased. In 2011, Apple Inc.’s online iTunes Store became the biggest reseller of recorded music in the world. It is a digital, Internet-based platform run by a computer firm. The music business has shown sustained sales growth since 2011, with streaming currently bringing in more money annually than digital downloads. By subscription numbers, Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music are the three streaming services with the most users.
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