Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

George Batta

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© 2013 Ilan Bielas


This thesis studies the music industry as a whole, and delves more specifically into how new technologies have disrupted the old business model. Advances in technology such as the Internet, MP3s, and file-sharing software have made it possible to bypass the traditional role of record labels, thus creating a closer link between artists and consumers. As the music industry transformed over time, the role of record labels became less defined. This has left once behemoth labels struggling to find a competitive advantage in a rapidly devolving industry. Record labels are no longer the most relevant segment of the music industry, and this work provides an in-depth analysis of the processes that destroyed their relevance.

This thesis begins by examining the music industry at a macro level, before tracking record labels from their prominence to their current marginalized role. Advancements in MP3, P2P networks, and other consumer-enabling technologies have transformed the music industry. The lack of a significant response to this shifting landscape within the industry has left record labels on a slippery slope towards extinction. As record labels failed to adapt to shifting demand and changing methods of consumption, private entrepreneurs have intervened to solve inefficiencies in the market. This thesis will leave the reader with an expansive knowledge of how the music industry has transformed, as well as its future trajectory without record labels.