2001 volume 33(1) pages 49 – 77

Cite as:
Leyshon A, 2001, "Time - space (and digital) compression: software formats, musical networks, and the reorganisation of the music industry" Environment and Planning A 33(1) 49 – 77

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Time - space (and digital) compression: software formats, musical networks, and the reorganisation of the music industry

Andrew Leyshon

Received 18 April 2000; in revised form 29 September 2000

Abstract. In this paper I examine the geographical and organisational consequences of the emergence of a new technological assemblage within the music industry. This technological assemblage is organised around software formats and Internet distribution systems. The paper is concerned with the relationship between technological innovation, economic competition, and the contestability of markets for goods and services within an era of digital content. I begin by setting out two opposing discourses currently circulating within the music industry: one that denigrates the emergence of software formats, and another that celebrates it. Both discourses concur that this new technological assemblage will fundamentally reorganise the music industry as it is currently configured, with some doubt being cast over the long-term viability of the industry owing to the problems of protecting the intellectual property rights of music contained within open software formats. I provide a critical analysis of electronic markets and their impact upon economic organisation, and examine the impacts of digital content and electronic markets within the music industry through the concept of the musical network. Four networks with distinctive organisational and spatial characteristics are identified within the musical economy: networks of creativity, of reproduction, of distribution, and of consumption. I argue that all four networks are being reshaped as a result of the impact of software formats and Internet distribution systems. These developments are found to threaten the short-term profitability of some established firms within the industry, but I argue that the industry is already beginning to restabilise around a new technological and regulatory regime designed to protect copyrights in music in software formats.

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