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Case study 1: Digital music

The following discussion questions are based on the primary reading below:

Discussion Questions

  1. Identify the market changes that have affected the ‘big 4’ music labels (as incumbents in the music industry)
    Is ‘piracy’ responsible for declining sales ?
  2. Outline how ‘free’ digital music can provide a legitimate business model for the music industry
  3. Given Apple’s dominance as a music retailer, how much of a threat are streaming music services like Spotify and ?
  4. Has the market for stand-alone music players peaked ?  What factors might be responsible ?
    Identify ways in which Apple has pursued product innovation that might reflect this

Primary reading

Economist (2010), Having a Ball: What’s working in music, The Economist, Oct 7th

Anderson, N (2010), File-sharers are content industry’s “largest customers”, Ars Technica, May 4th

Kelly, K (2008), Better Than Free, The Technium [blog], Jan 31st

Ofcom (2010), Communications Market Report, Ofcom, August [large pdf]
– see section 3.3.12 Online streaming services and 3.3.13 Use of digital music services and devices (pp226-231)

Arthur, C (2009), Twilight of the iPods, The Guardian, Sept 9th


Tapscott, D and Williams, A (2010), Book Excerpt: Macrowikinomics (Part 6) – Music industry, BusinessWeek, Oct 15th

music think tank

Economist (2007), Lessons from Apple, The Economist, June 7th

* New materials

Empson, R (2011), iPod, Meet Spotify; iTunes, Say Hello To Your Future Rival, TechCrunch, May 3rd

Arthur, C (2011b), Spotify’s limits on free use will please the big record labels, The Guardian, April 14th

Broadstuff (2011a), Are Apple Deliberately Late to The Cloud Music Party?,, April 2nd

Broadstuff (2011b), Spotify and the Freemium Music System Dynamic Conundrum,, April 14th

Economist (2011), Their Master’s Voice [Music stores], The Economist, April 20th

Topping, A (2011), Music industry struggles to make digital leap of faith, The Guardian, Jan 31st

Arthur, C (2011a), Three bits of bad news for the music business. And it’s not improving, The Guardian, Feb 8th

DeGusta, M (2011), The REAL Death Of The Music Industry, Business Insider, Feb 18th

Halliday, J (2011), Spotify hits 1m paying subscribers, The Guardian, Mar 8th

Lasar, M (2011), Did file-sharing cause recording industry collapse? Economists say no, ArsTechnica, Mar 23rd

Vogels, W (2011), Music to my Ears – Introducing Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon Cloud Player, All Things Distributed [blog], Mar 28th