PBS Frontline examines the collapse of the recording industry in a video documentary called "The Way The Music Died". It follows the trajectory of the recording industry from it’s heyday in the 1970s and 80s to mass layoffs and bankruptcy in the 21st century.
In the post 1960s Woodstock era, the record industry saw an unprecedented 25 year growth of 20 percent per year. In the 1980s further interest was fueled by the MTV explosion which was to influence the demise of lengthy and potentially costly albums in a preference for 3 minute ‘hit’ singles.
Four recording artists discuss their aspirations and experiences in the shadow of recording industry decline with sales falling from $40 billion to $28 billion in just three years.
"Chapter One — When Art and Commerce Collide: From the heydey of WoodstockŠto the boom years of CDŠto the latest slickly-packaged big label artists – David Crosby and other industry insiders assess what’s led to the music industry’s current woes. "
"Chapter Two — Confronting The Perfect Storm: Tough new realities face the new group Velvet Revolver, and Sarah Hudson, an aspiring singer/songwriter. Roughly 30,000 albums will be released in 2004, but only about 100 will be hits."
"Chapter Three — The Eye of the Needle: Getting radio airplay for your record is the single narrowest opening into success for a new artist. But with radio’s huge corporate consolidation, it’s more difficult than ever to get on playlists. "
"Chapter Four — Will They Make It? Sarah Hudson and Velvet Revolver have made their videos and they’ve mapped their promotional campaigns. So now, what are their chances? "
Watch the full program – 60 minutes – Windows media and RealPlayer.
Related audio and video documentaries
- Copyright Criminals: This is a Sampling Sport a video documentary by Ben Franzen and Kembrew McLeod.
- Slate’s Explainer: The Value of Downloaded Music Slate senior editor Andy Bowers gives an explainer on the value, if any, of illegally downloaded music (NPR audio file). Read the story How Much Is Your Stolen Music Worth? Probably more than you think.