The Digital Era Versus The Institutions Of Analog Essay Example
The Digital Era Versus The Institutions Of Analog Essay Example

The Digital Era Versus The Institutions Of Analog Essay Example

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  • Pages: 8 (2130 words)
  • Published: October 21, 2017
  • Type: Essay
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The purpose of this essay is to examine the ongoing battle between the digital era and analog institutions, particularly in the music industry. The discussion will begin by exploring the history of vinyl and then moving on to the new and "improved" digital era of music production. This will include an examination of the ongoing demands and browsing habits of consumers, as well as the ongoing battle between certain formats. Despite the broad nature of this subject, we will focus on a specific case study of peer-to-peer file transferring, with a particular emphasis on Napster. We will explore how Napster paved the way for downloadable MP3s and how industries have capitalized on this technology that was once frowned upon. In addition, we will examine the changing tastes and demands in this evolving internet culture and club culture, focusing speci


fically on MP3s and vinyl.

The gramophone, also referred to as vinyl record, vinyl, phonograph record, or simply record, is a type of analog sound storage medium. It consists of a flat disc with grooves that represent specific pitches and tones. When amplified and read by a record player, it produces the music that we as listeners crave and purchase on a daily basis. This technology was widely used for commercial music reproduction throughout the 20th century. Despite advancements and replacements in technology, many music enthusiasts and DJ's still favor vinyl due to its unique and balanced sound quality. Vinyl records offer a richness, vibrancy, and atmosphere that cannot be found in CD's or MP3's. In the music industry, vinyl records were often categorized as either LP (Long Play) or EP (Extended Play). LP's typically held all recording

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while EP's contained twice the usual number of songs on each side at 45 rpm. Record sizes in America and the UK are typically measured in inches, with LP's commonly being 12" in format while early vinyl recordings were 10".

They are often made of PVC, so they may be referred to as vinyl records or simply vinyl. In the Digital Era, with the internet playing a bigger role in daily life, people needed a format for everyday use. Instead of searching through their CD or vinyl collections, they wanted something digital. With impressive technology advancements, the WAV file was created. Short for Waveform audio format, it stores data digitally through an audio bitstream on PCs. WAV files are typically large in size when uncompressed. As file sharing over the internet became more popular, a solution was needed. Thus, a format was created for this purpose.

Behold the dreaded mp3, also known as an MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 but more commonly referred to as MP3. It is a digital audio encoding format and is widely used for consumer audio storage. Despite the declining popularity of the WAV format, MP3 remains a commonly used file type that offers relatively pure sound and high quality, making it suitable for industries that require high-end sound and have no restrictions on disk space. The availability of compressed audio solutions on the internet caused a frenzy, resulting in a global sharing phenomenon.

The use of MP3s resulted in faster internet transfers and reduced storage space consumption. However, this compression also led to a decrease in audio quality. In my case study, I will analyze Napster, the well-known file sharing service that played a

pioneering role. Napster was the first online platform for music file sharing and gained significance with the emergence of MP3 and other formats.

In 1999, Shawn Fanning, a student from North-eastern University in Boston, created Napster, a peer-to-peer sharing service widely used in today’s internet culture. Fanning was frustrated with the existing methods of searching for music on the internet and decided to create his own solution. Napster focused primarily on music in the form of MP3 files and had a user-friendly interface. As a result, it gained popularity worldwide for its wide selection of downloadable music. Napster's technology allowed even casual internet users to access their vast database of illegal files and folders, making it easy for people to share these illegal MP3 format song files with others globally, contributing to its growth and popularity.

The music industry accused the Napster p2p network of widespread copyright infringement after it became popular for illegal mp3 downloads. Metallica, a famous rock band, discovered that their song 'I Disappear' was being shared on Napster before its official release. This led to the song being leaked onto radio stations and played across America. Metallica further investigated and found that their entire back catalogue was also available through this file sharing network. In response, Metallica and their record company sued Napster in 2000. The court found Napster guilty of all charges, and the company declared bankruptcy in 2002 after being shut down for almost a year.

Although the recording industry criticized music sharing as theft, many Napster users justified the breach of copyright and supported this illegal service for various reasons. Napster was popular because it allowed users to obtain chart hit

songs without purchasing entire albums, which were often seen as filled with "filler" tracks and only a few decent songs. Despite being shut down by court order in 2001, the ideology of file sharing laid the foundation for underground peer-to-peer file-sharing programs that continue to operate under different names and locations, making them difficult to trace and prosecute. This global system of audio piracy has also influenced a new perspective on record sales.

Napster reached its peak with a staggering 26.4 million users worldwide in February 2001. After witnessing the immense response to illegal services, several major companies capitalized on this pirate technology and concept, taking it to a new level of hypocrisy by offering fully legal downloads of tracks through platforms like iTunes, which has now become one of the world's leading legal downloading clients for mp3 and track formats. "Music is a commodity that requires legal protection, but the meanings attributed to that commodity are not solely determined by its producers."

"Fig 2. Bands are now opting for mp3s instead of CDs or limited edition vinyl. For instance, the electro hip hop band Hadouken from London has embraced the digital trend by exclusively releasing an album on a USB stick that contains a comprehensive track listing of mp3s. Similarly, the controversial British band Radiohead has also acknowledged the ongoing issue of illegal downloading and has taken a different approach by solely releasing their upcoming album 'In Rainbows' on their personal website. The album can be purchased at a negotiable price, allowing listeners to pay whatever they want, and can only be acquired through their website.

Fig 3. Despite being a bold and courageous move towards combating

piracy, I believe that if all artists were to adopt this approach, it could severely impact the music industry and potentially lead to its downfall as a corporation."

Although Radiohead's success is undeniable, they have yet to disclose the exact sales numbers resulting from their controversial decision. The argument lies in examining the traditional methods of music production, such as vinyl and physical copies, in comparison to the emerging digital era. Both formats hold their own value and satisfy listeners as they purchase their preferred format. Nowadays, many popular artists release digital singles and limit physical copies in stores. This approach presents a significant opportunity for major record companies to generate profit with less effort. Instead of mass-producing CDs, designing artwork, and incurring distribution costs, they can maintain a database of songs available for digital transfer over the internet at any desired price.

MP3's have revolutionized music listening, offering unparalleled portability and convenience. With advancements in mp3 player technology, enjoying music on the go has never been easier. The appeal of mp3 files lies in their unrestricted file size, making them ideal for those who are constantly on the move.

In addition to their portability, digital tracks are much more affordable compared to vinyl records. Typically, an mp3 track costs around 79p, while a vinyl record can cost at least five times as much. Furthermore, analog formats like vinyl have limitations in terms of size and capacity. A 12" Vinyl can only hold 2 tracks per side, whereas digital storage platforms such as external hard drives, mass storage DVDs, and CDs allow for thousands of tracks across various devices.

The convenience of MP3's cannot be overstated as traditional record

stores are rapidly vanishing. However, DJs and record collectors still appreciate the charm of vinyl. Many believe that the analog experience of vinyl -- from the recordings themselves to the quality of reproduction -- provides a unique warmth and atmosphere that cannot be replicated by digital sound.

Furthermore, these music enthusiasts highly value the physical nature of vinyl records. Being able to physically hold and showcase an extensive music collection is seen as a rewarding experience.

Furthermore, when purchasing music from independent labels in specific genres, it can evoke a sense of elation knowing that your purchase directly contributes to supporting the cause and making a difference in the grand scheme of things. There is also an appreciation for the concept of browsing through a physical record store and stumbling upon unique albums that are exclusively found in that particular location. When shopping for vinyl, one can discover extraordinary samples and rare records that haven't been heard by anyone else before.

"MP3's are widely available on the internet, both legally and illegally. People who download mp3's usually do it for the convenience, whether it's for their iPod on the go or as background music while working out or passing time. On the other hand, vinyl records are harder to obtain and have a special allure. They have a tactile quality, their visual appeal, the large canvas of artwork, and how it relates to the music's ideology. Music released on vinyl is more niche, unique, and original. For instance, Aphex Twin's groundbreaking album 'Analord' can only be purchased on vinyl. Collectors value vinyl not only for its musical quality but also for the rarity of the artwork and the

release itself. The covers of LP's themselves have become collectibles. Limited edition releases and rare debut albums are like holy grails for some collectors and artists."

"He believed that attractive packaging would increase sales, and he was proven right. Since then, influential figures in contemporary art have designed music packaging. If all music were digitally released online and there were no record stores, packaging would lose its purpose and a release would lack character. Album artwork conveys emotions and sets the mood, enhancing the overall effect of the music. It helps anticipate the sound and quality of the recordings. For instance, if the album is uplifting and filled with sunny anthems, the packaging would reflect that with vibrant colors and tone. Graphic elements enhance the experience of owning a physical copy of the music. In terms of mixing capabilities, digital recordings have clear advantages over analog recordings."

The possibilities for editing are endless in terms of cutting, adjusting levels, and adding effects and distortion. In comparison to the limitations of analog technology, producers have a wide open world. Overall, I believe that both vinyl records and MP3 downloads are important in their own ways. They serve different purposes and cater to evolving audiences. For example, if you want to quickly download a song you've heard elsewhere, MP3 is the way to go. However, if you're looking for a rare piece of art or enhancing your DJ set with a forgotten timeless track, browsing a record store is priceless. Regardless of sound preferences or personal choices in music, there is something out there for every audience. Whether it's having a massive collection on an external hard drive or

building the rarest vinyl collection, each medium has its purpose depending on the individual and their intended use.

Compressed audio formats, as described by users of musical underground forums, lack the quality and 'warmth' found in vinyl's uncompressed sound. Many consider the hisses, pops, and imperfect sounds of vinyl to be essential features of authentic traditional music. In essence, comparing these formats is akin to comparing religions.

"Bibliography. Online Articles. The effects of piracy upon the music industry: a case study of bootlegging by Lee Marshall, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. Web References. .

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