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The Evolution of Music Markets

Listed author(s):
  • Scherer, F.M.
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    This chapter traces the development of markets for music over the past several centuries. Formally organized music was at first supported primarily by churches and the nobility. Indeed, during the 18th century there was a kind of "arms race" in which noble houses competed for prestige through the quality of their orchestras and operas. Gradually, however, the role of churches and the nobility declined and more market-oriented venues, including vibrant markets for free-lance performance and composition, became dominant. A survey of 646 musicians born between 1650 and 1849 quantifies these trends, along with the increasing tendency for composers to earn their livelihood in part by teaching in conservatories and other music schools. The same data set is tapped to show the various ways in which composers learned their musical skills. When the data are analyzed in still another way, Austria is found to be the most intensive employer of composer-musicians per million population and also to have given birth to the largest number of composers relative to its population. The territory that in 1990 was Czechoslovakia was second in births; Germany was second in employment. One means by which composers derived income, especially with the ascendance of free-lance composition, was publication of their creations. The evolution of publishing technology and music copyright is traced. Gradually, as income per capita grew in the industrialized nations, audiences for musical performances broadened until by the end of the 19th century mass markets came into being. Radio and the phonograph radically transformed the ways music was enjoyed and widened the market for music even more. The electronic media in turn intensified a tendency that was already evident in the early 18th century - the ability of a few "superstars" to achieve spectacular financial success.

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    This chapter was published in:
  • V.A. Ginsburgh & D. Throsby (ed.), 2006. "Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture," Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 1, number 1, December.
  • This item is provided by Elsevier in its series Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture with number 1-04.
    Handle: RePEc:eee:artchp:1-04
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