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World Music through the Internet

The Western music has always had the influence from the foreign music. This can be seen by an analysis of the American Pop music chart. The music albums of Shakira are being made in both Spanish and English language. “Sergio Mendes has revived his classic bossa nova sounds in the West through collaborations with the rap/hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas. Furtado herself produces music with Latin and Indian influences” (Globalization) The Indian Diaspora such as Punjabi Music Club of UK has popularized the Indian Punjabi music of bhangra in the West through collaboration with stars such as Furtado and American rapper Jay-Z.

Andrew Orlowski reports that the world music industry traditionally has been controlled by four major labels – universal/Vivendi, Warners, Sony BMG and EMI – and these labels accounted for more than two thirds of the total worldwide sales of the music industry. Because of this domination the promotion of established Western music brands around the world. However, the introduction of internet technology has made radical changes in the dominance of these major labels.

Internet has enabled the music lovers allover the world to read about and to listen to samples of their favourite music on their personal computers at home. This also enabled them to make their decisions on buying the music through on line. The advent of internet has also enhanced the chances of foreign and independent artists to compete globally in association with popular music brands that are heavily promoted. The global online music has reached the level of $ 2 billion in sales which represents 10 percent of the total music market worldwide.

There are more than 40 countries which are being served now by online services offering downloadable songs. According to the estimates of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) the digital music sale is set to surpass25 percent of the total music sales by the year 2010. (United Press) It is interesting to note that Apple iTunes Music Store one of leading online music sellers has sold 2 billion tracks since its inception in the year 2003 and out of these more than 50 percent of the tracks were sold in the year 2006 (Aisha Phoenix)

In order to market the products of artists who are not supported by any major labels and who are struggling to thrive in the commercial music industry market a privately funded label named ‘Merlin’ was formed in the UK in the year 2007. Merlin had the objective of representing large number of such artists who wanted to get a break in the commercial music industry. The labels like ‘merlin’ are classified as ‘indie’ labels.

Presently there are no indie labels that represent more than one percent of the music market. But it is surprising to note that all the members of ‘merlin’ put together make around 30 percent of the market and this projects merlin as the single largest label in the world. (Nate Andersen) The merlin initiative is looked at as appropriate for promoting more artists from different parts of the world as more than 80 percent of the new releases belong to the indie labels group.

The latest initiative in the area of online music sales is from ‘Calabash Music’ which sells music from the independent artists and labels through online through its own website and also forming partnerships with others like ‘National Geographic Magazine’. By a process of efficient sales promotion and distribution afforded by internet, Calabash music shares the earnings with the artists on an equal basis with its artists. Most of the artists hail from the developing nations. This kind of the sharing of revenues with the artists presents a ‘fair-trade’ model’ for the music industry.

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