We all take the music industry for granted, it has been with us for so long and dominated the media that it seems that the industry has always been there. But this is not so, the music producers, artists, publishers and so forth have only been a coherent group as an industry for a relatively short time. In this blog we look at the history of the music industry and how it was formed.

The Live Music Industry

The Live Music Industry has been around since people gathered together with instruments and played together, hopefully for money. Meaning that this industry was around for hundreds of years, and performers have been delivering music to anybody that would listen.

The Music Publishing Industry

The first printing press was invented around the 1600s, primarily for use in the church to print off hymn sheets and bible texts. A couple of hundred years later the Industrial Revolution shook things up, and the first printed music started to roll off the presses. At the same time, the general publishing industry was making printed media, including books, magazines and advertising fliers. But they also took advantage of the new technologies and looked for ways to make economies of scale and how to reach a wider audience. Sheet music was no exception to this growing industry trend and the music publishing industry was started.

Many concert halls and musical salons across Europe demanded sheet music for orchestras to play the latest compositions. The Romantic period was a watershed for demand, as many rich people supported what the period was all about and were quite happy to throw money at it. Many private homes often had musical recitals and the musicians demanded sheet music for their performances. At the turn of the 19th Century, composers would have their works printed and then hundreds of orchestras across Europe would request multiple copies, the music printing industry was thriving.

The Recorded Music Industry

Believe it or not, Leon Scott back in 1857 invented the first machine that could take audio and make a recording of that sound on paper. Two decades later the phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison and that invention was to revolutionize the fledgling music industry that was being formed. The phonograph was able to record and play back sound, by means of a cylinder. These rudimentary cylinders were constantly developed during the next century, from tin, celluloid, and wax and were eventually replaced by flat discs of various sizes.

By 1903 a twelve inch record was made, which rotated at 78 times every minute and could store just over four minutes of sound. The sound was recorded on early ribbon microphones, which captured the music to be stored on the new disc. This new ability to record favorite bands and singers of the time, singing and playing by reading sheet music started the recorded music industry. In part two of this blog we continue with the development of the recorded music industry and look at the formation of record labels.