Media Systems Models and the Music Industry
Media Systems Models and the Music Industry
To understand the business aspect of mass media, it is necessary to “explore both the underlying economic dynamics of the media industry and the extra-economic role that is played by the mass media in a democratic society” (Croteau & Hoynes, n.d., 14). Numerous frameworks or models have been created to outline the basic conceptional structure of the aforementioned subject, including the market model (n.d.) and the public sphere model (n.d.).
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The Market Model
The market model argued that “society’s needs can best be met through a relatively unregulated process of exchange based on the dynamics of supply and demand” (Croteau & Hoynes, n.d., 15). Simply put, as long as mass media faces comeptition from similar industries, it will strive to produce good-quality service. Hence, its ownership should be left to the private sector, where consumers are the ones who dictate market forces instead of the government.
l Markets promote efficiency – Markets tend to become efficient when freed from the cumbersome bureaucracies associated with centralized planning (Croteau & Hoynes, n.d., 15). In order to increase their profits, companies must find ways to produce goods and services at the least cost possible. This results in efficiency on the part of the producers and low prices for the consumers (Croteau & Hoynes, n.d., 15).
l Markets promote responsiveness – As enterprises operate on the law of supply and demand, producers prioritize on what consumers want.
l Markets promote flexibility – Aside from being responsive to consumer demands, producers are also open to new market trends and conditions.
l Markets promote innovation – The desire for profit drives companies to come up with new products and services that will ensure them a bigger market share.
l Markets can deliver media like any other product – Adovcates of the market model assert that without state control, mass media will also respond to consumer demand, come up with better innovations and will remain flexible and efficient – just like all other goods and services (Croteau & Hoynes, n.d., 15).
l Markets are undemocratic – Markets operate on a “’one-dollar-one-vote’ mechanism” (Croteau & Hoynes, n.d., 21). The more money a consumer has, the more influence he or she has in the marketplace.
l Markets produce inequality – Since markets use money as a medium of exchange, it is inevitable that the wealthy will have greater access to goods and services being sold.
l Markets are amoral – Markets sell whatever can be sold, whether or not what they selling will be harmful to society.
l Markets do not necessarily meet social ends – There are some services that society has to provide to its members, regardless of market forces (education, health, etc.). If these services are left to the priavte sector, they will only be available to the moneyed.
The Public Sphere Model
The public sphere model contends that markets cannot address all of society’s needs (Croteau & Hoynes, n.d., 21). This is because there are necessities that must be made accessible to everyone in society, notwithstanding their purchasing power. The public sphere model also regards people as citizens instead of as consumers (Croteau & Hoynes, n.d., 20). Mass media, for instance, is essential for a thriving democracy (Croteau & Hoynes, n.d., 21). Hence, it should focus on qualities such as diversity and substance instead of profit.
l The tradition of civic responsibility is maintained – Profit-seeking is balanced with the civic responsibilities of news and public affairs (Croteau & Hoynes, n.d., 30).
l The public interest is prioritized – The citizen’s right to information is protected and upheld, even if it entails going against the status quo.
l Promoting diversity, avoiding homogeniety – A wide range of perspectives is offered to enable citizens to make informed choices.
l Substance and innovation without elitism – The public sphere model knows that there is a big difference between what people “want” and what people “need.”
l Elitism – It is the media elites who decide what information is valuable, neglecting other important, popular contributions. This may result to a paternalist approach to mass media (Croteau & Hoynes, n.d., 35).
The Market Model and David Byrne’s Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists – and Megastars
David Byrne’s article Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists – and Megastars (2007) gave a frank analysis of how recording artists make money in the music industry. Although he provided six possible scenarios, the bottom line of the article was that artists should hold on to their publishing rights as much as they can (Byrne, 2007, n. pag.). Byrne argued further that doing so may not bring in money at the start of an artist’s career, but it will long after the end.
The market model is applicable to the article. The recording industry is stereotypically known as a glamorous one-way ticket to fame and fortune. But the ugly truth is that it offers a recording artist (no matter how talented he or she may be) only two options: instant stardom at the expense of his or her right to his or her own music or obscurity in exchange for artistic freedom. The recording companies cannot be blamed – they are enterprises. Hence, it is only logical that when they invest money on an artist, they will expect a larger amount in return.
And in order to make money, the recording companies must cater to what audiences want. After all, they are the ones who buy the records and go to concerts. The recording companies will therefore package their artists according to what makes audiences tick, never mind if doing so does not sit will with the artist’s personal style or brand of music. Albums, singles, concerts, tours, merchandise – they will do everything to profit from their artists. The recording companies are confident that their artists will not complain – being repackaged is surely a lot better than remaining as a starving, unknown musician.
But as a safeguard against lawsuits and or their artists leaving them, recording compnaies will make their artists sign a contract stating that they will turn over their rights to their music to them and or they will live in debt with their respective recording company. So when their career goes downhill, the artists will also go broke. As much as they want to complain, they cannot. All the royalties that they are supposed to earn when their songs are used for movies, commercials, revivals, etc. will go to the recording company.
For artists who cannot stomach this kind of deal, they can always resort to self-distribution. But this strategy is not easy, even for extremely gifted musicians. Even though their music is independently produced and marketed, they will have to deal with financial constraints, and competition from well-promoted artists backed by established recording companies.
Byrne, D. (2007, December 18). Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists – and Megastars.
Retrieved February 1, 2008 from http://www.wired.com/entertainment/music/magazine/16-01/ff_byrne?currentpage=all
Croteau, D. & Hoynes, W. (n.d.). The Business of Media: Corporate Media and the Public
Interest. California: Pine Forge Press.