Evolution of Digital Music Services

  • Hyojung Sun


This chapter presents the detailed process of innovation involved in the evolution of digital music services. It describes the trials and errors that digital music firms experienced in trying to find a commercially viable business model in the digital era. This chapter is composed of four parts: (1) an early history of the digital music service building process after Napster was closed down, (2) iTunes’ achievements and limitations, (3) YouTube and’s attempts to valorise digital music and their limitations and (4) the decline of the anticipated P2P technology, and the growth of streaming services has emerged as a new form of digital music consumption platform.


  1. Aguiar, L. 2017. Let the Music Play? Free Streaming and Its Effects on Digital Music Consumption. Information Economics and Policy 41: 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aguiar, L., and J. Waldfogel. 2015. Streaming Reaches Flood Stage: Does Spotify Stimulate or Depress Music Sales? Working Paper No. 21653, National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  3. Akester, P. 2005. Copyright and the P2P Challenge. European Intellectual Property Review 27 (3): 106.Google Scholar
  4. Apple Press. 2007. Apple Unveils Higher Quality DRM-Free Music on the iTunes Store [online]. Apple Press. Available from Accessed 2 Aug 2014.
  5. Apple Press. 2009. Changes Coming to the iTunes Store [online]. Apple Press Info. Available from Accessed 2 Aug 2014.
  6. Arditi, D. 2014. iTunes: Breaking Barriers and Building Walls. Popular Music and Society 37 (4): 408–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bakker, P. 2005. File-Sharing—Fight, Ignore or Compete: Paid Download Services vs. P2P-Networks. Telematics and Informatics 22 (1–2): 41–55.Google Scholar
  8. BBC News. 2003. Website Offers New View of Music. BBC, March 27.Google Scholar
  9. BBC News. 2009. to Charge for Streaming. BBC, March 25.Google Scholar
  10. Bell, K. 2014. Spotify Now Generates More Royalties Than iTunes In Europe [online]. Business Insider. Available from Accessed 6 July 2018.
  11. Benkler, Y. 2006. The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Blankenhorn, D. 2006. Dana Blankenhorn: How Much Further Can Apple Go? [online]. Available from Accessed 7 Aug 2014.
  13. Breen, J.C. 2007. YouTube or YouLose: Can YouTube Survive a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit? Texas Intellectual Property Law Journal 16 (1): 151–182.Google Scholar
  14. Burgess, J. 2009. YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  15. Buskirk, E.V. 2008. Free Music Boosts’s Traffic 58 Percent [online]. Wired. Available from Accessed 10 Feb 2016.
  16. Christman, E. 2014. IMPALA Files Complaint Against YouTube with European Commission [online]. Billboard. Available from Accessed 25 July 2014.
  17. Craft, K.L. 2001. The Webcasting Music Revolution Is Ready to Begin, as Soon as We Figure Out the Copyright Law: The Story of the Music Industry at War with Itself. Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal 24: 1.Google Scholar
  18. Cummings, A.S. 2010. From Monopoly to Intellectual Property: Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright, 1909–1971. The Journal of American History 97 (3): 659–681.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Delaney, K.J., and E. Smith. 2006. YouTube Model Is Compromise Over Copyrights. Wall Street Journal, September 19.Google Scholar
  20. Delchin, R.J. 2004. Musical Copyright Law: Past, Present and Future of Online Music Distribution. Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal 22: 343.Google Scholar
  21. DeVoss, D.N., and J.E. Porter. 2006. Why Napster Matters to Writing: Filesharing as a New Ethic of Digital Delivery. Computers and Composition: An International Journal for Teachers of Writing 23 (2): 178–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Drahos, P. 2002. Information Feudalism: Who Owns the Knowledge Economy? London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  23. Dredge, S. 2014. Musician Zoe Keating Reveals iTunes, Spotify and YouTube Payouts for 2013. The Guardian, February 24.Google Scholar
  24. Dredge, S., 2018. What do smart speakers like Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod mean for music? Medium. Available from
  25. First Kiss. 2014. Available at
  26. Fitzpatrick, A. 2016. Streaming Showdown: Amazon Music Unlimited vs. Spotify [online]. Time. Available from Accessed 5 Feb 2018.
  27. Flanagan, A. 2014. YouTube Re-negotiating with Indies Following Outcry [online]. Billboard. Available from Accessed 12 July 2014.
  28. Fred von Lohmann ‘Copyright and Innovation Policy’. 2012. Available at
  29. Gardner, E. 2014a. Viacom, Google Settle Long-Running YouTube Copyright Lawsuit [online]. The Hollywood Reporter. Available from Accessed 7 Aug 2014.
  30. Gardner, E. 2014b. What Viacom Has to Show for Seven Years of Pursuing YouTube [online]. Billboard. Available from Accessed 16 July 2014.
  31. Gensler, A. 2017. Lyor Cohen on the Streaming Business, Combining YouTube Red and Google Play, and SoundCloud’s ‘Sad Experience’ [online]. Billboard. Available from Accessed 31 Oct 2017.
  32. Goodell, J. 2003. Steve Jobs: Rolling Stone’s 2003 Interview [online]. Rolling Stone. Available from Accessed 31 July 2014.
  33. Google. 2006. Google to Acquire YouTube for $1.65 Billion in Stock [online]. Google News. Available from Accessed 10 Feb 2016.
  34. Grossman, L. 2006. You—Yes, You—Are TIME’s Person of the Year. Time.Google Scholar
  35. Helft, M., and G. Fabrikant. 2007. WhoseTube? Viacom Sues Google Over Video Clips. The New York Times, March 14.Google Scholar
  36. Hern, A. 2016. Amazon Launches Spotify and Apple Music Competitor [online]. The Guardian. Available from Accessed 5 Feb 2018.
  37. Hiatt, B. 2002. Which Online Music Service Is Worth Paying for? [online]. Entertainment Weekly. Available from Accessed 16 Apr 2018.
  38. Hill, B. 2018. The Digital Songstream: Mastering the World of Digital Music (Paperback)—Routledge [online]. Available from Accessed 17 Apr 2018.
  39. Holton, K. 2007. Warner Music Announces Content Deal [online]. Reuters. Available from Accessed 10 Feb 2016.
  40. Hopkins, J. 2006. Surprise! There’s a Third YouTube Co-founder [online]. USA Today. Available from Accessed 28 Feb 2016.
  41. Hormann, K.C. 2009. The Death of the DMCA? How Viacom v. Youtube May Define the Future of Digital Content. Houston Law Review 46 (4): 1345–1377.Google Scholar
  42. IFPI. 2015. Digital Music Report 2015: Charting the Path to Sustainable Growth. Available from
  43. IFPI. 2017. IFPI Global Music Report 2017: Annual State of the Industry. Available from
  44. IFPI. 2018. Global Music Report 2015: Annual State of the Industry. Available from
  45. Jarrett, K. 2008. Beyond Broadcast YourselfTM: The Future of Youtube. Media International Australia 126 (1): 132–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Jenkins, H. 2006. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Jeremy Fry—Celtics Fan Dancing to Bon Jovi Living on a Prayer at a Celtics Game. 2009. Available from
  48. JK Wedding Entrance Dance. 2009. Available from
  49. Jobs, S. 2007. Apple—Thoughts on Music [online]. Available from; Accessed 31 July 2014.
  50. Kiss, J. 2007. Fetches $280m. The Guardian, May, 30.Google Scholar
  51. Knopper, S. 2009. Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  52. Koh, B., B.P.S. Murthi, and S. Raghunathan. 2014. Shifting Demand: Online Music Piracy, Physical Music Sales, and Digital Music Sales. Journal of Organizational Computing and Electronic Commerce 24 (4): 366–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Lane, D. 2014. The Top 10 Most Streamed Songs and Artists of All Time Revealed! [online]. Available from Accessed 24 July 2014.
  54. Lane, M.A. 2011. ‘Interactive Services’ and the Future of Internet Radio Broadcasts. Alabama Law Review 62: 459.Google Scholar
  55. Blog. 2008. Free the Music [online]. Blog. Available from Accessed 10 Feb 2016.
  56. Blog. 2009. Radio Announcement [online]. Available from Accessed 11 Feb 2016.
  57. Blog. 2010. April 12 Site Update—Track Page Beta, Streaming Changes—Feedback and Ideas [online]. Available from Accessed 11 Feb 2016.
  58. Leeds, J. 2006. Warner Music Makes Licensing Deal with YouTube [online]. New York Times. Available from Accessed 28 Feb 2016.
  59. Levy, N.N. 2000. Method to Their Madness: The Secure Digital Music Initiative, a Law and Economics Perspective. Virginia Journal of Law and Technology 5: 1.Google Scholar
  60. Levy, S. 2006. The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  61. von Lohmann, F. 2006. Thoughts on Google, YouTube [online]. Electronic Frontier Foundation. Available from Accessed 10 Feb 2016.
  62. Marshall, L. 2015. ‘Let’s Keep Music Special. F—Spotify’: On-Demand Streaming and the Controversy Over Artist Royalties. Creative Industries Journal 8 (2): 177–189.Google Scholar
  63. McCarthy, C. 2006. Paris Hilton Showcases YouTube’s New ad Concepts [online]. CNET. Available from Accessed 29 Feb 2016.
  64. McCarthy, C. 2007. What Does CBS Want with [online]. CNET. Available from Accessed 25 Feb 2016.
  65. McIntyre, H. 2015. Apple Music Has Lost 40% of Users After Its Free Trial—Forbes [online]. Forbes. Available from Accessed 9 Feb 2016.
  66. Medford, C. 2008. Report: Apple Killed Music Industry. Red Herring, 2–2.Google Scholar
  67. Minsker, E. 2014. Indie Labels Unite to Launch ‘Fair Digital Deals Declaration’ Initiative [online]. Pitchfork. Available from Accessed 25 July 2014.
  68. Mitroff, S. 2015. Apple Music vs Spotify: What’s the Difference? [online]. CNET. Available from Accessed 9 Feb 2016.
  69. Mulligan, M. 2017a. Announcing MIDiA’s Streaming Services Market Shares Report. Music Industry Blog.Google Scholar
  70. Mulligan, M. 2017b. Amazon Is Now the 3rd Biggest Music Subscription Service. Music Industry Blog.Google Scholar
  71. Nash, E. 2011. How Steve Jobs Saved the Music Industry. Wall Street Journal, October 21.Google Scholar
  72. O’Brien, D.S., and B.F. Fitzgerald. 2006. Mashups, Remixes and Copyright Law. Internet Law Bulletin 9 (2): 17–19.Google Scholar
  73. Page, W. 2013. Adventures in the Netherlands: New Spotify Study Sees Encouraging Downwards Trend in Music Piracy in the Netherlands. Spotify Press.Google Scholar
  74. Pham, A. 2013a. The Evolution of iTunes: The Birth of a Colossus: The Creation of the World’s Biggest Music Retailer Seemed to Happen Almost in spite of the Record Labels, but They Knew a Good Thing When Steve Jobs Showed It to Them. Billboard 125 (17): 24.Google Scholar
  75. Pham, A. 2013b. Vevo Pumps Up the Volume with More Than 1 Billion Monthly Views on Mulitple Platforms, Vevo Has Become Crucial. Billboard 125 (45): 36.Google Scholar
  76. Pollack, W.M. 1999. Tuning In: The Future of Copyright Protection for Online Music in the Digital Millennium. Fordham Law Review 68: 2445.Google Scholar
  77. Quan, M. 1999. SDMI Releases Portable-Player Spec [online]. EETimes. Available from Accessed 28 Feb 2016.
  78. Reed, M. 2006. Publishers vs. YouTube: Does Either Side Win? [online]. USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review. Available from Accessed 22 Feb 2016.
  79. Reuters. 2006. YouTube Serves Up 100 Million Videos a Day Online [online]. USA Today. Available from Accessed 7 Aug 2014.
  80. Rossow, C., D. Andriesse, T. Werner, B. Stone-Gross, D. Plohmann, C.J. Dietrich, and H. Bos. 2013. SoK: P2PWNED—Modeling and Evaluating the Resilience of Peer-to-Peer Botnets. In 2013 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy. Presented at the 2013 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, 97–111.Google Scholar
  81. Rozat, P. 2011. Deezer: Profitability Down the Line? [online]. InaGlobal. Available from Accessed 1 Feb 2018.
  82. Samuel, M.C. 2014. Winds of Change. Journey of UK Music from the Old World to the New World. Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues 11 (2): 27.Google Scholar
  83. Sandoval, G. 2008. Source: Universal Music Group Plans ‘Hulu-Like’ Site [online]. CNET. Available from Accessed 24 July 2014.
  84. Sassard, S. 2017. The French Music Streaming Service Taking on Spotify, Apple and Amazon [online]. The Independent. Available from Accessed 1 Feb 2018.
  85. Sharpe, N.F., and O.B. Arewa. 2006. Is Apple Playing Fair—Navigating the iPod FairPlay DRM Controversy. Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property 5: 332.Google Scholar
  86. Sheffner, B. 2011. The Antitrust Case Against Major Record Labels, in Perspective [online]. Billboard. Available from Accessed 5 Aug 2014.
  87. Sisario, B. 2014. Beats Music Enters Online Streaming Market—The New York Times [online]. Available from Accessed 28 Feb 2016.
  88. Solon, O. 2013. Pirate Bay Interview: You Can’t Beat Politics with Technology Says Peter Sunde [online]. Wired UK. Available from Accessed 7 Feb 2016.
  89. Sparks, D. 2017. Apple Music Subscribers Hit 30 Million, but It’s Not as Impressive as It Sounds [online]. Business Insider. Available from Accessed 15 Dec 2017.
  90. Spotify. 2017. Fast Facts—Spotify. Spotify Press.Google Scholar
  91. Sunde, P. 2015. The ‘Pirate Movement’ Is Dead. TorrentFreak.Google Scholar
  92. The New York Times. 2007. CBS Buys Last.FM, an Online Radio Site. The New York Times, May 31.Google Scholar
  93. Thorpe, V. 2015. Zane Lowe to leave BBC Radio 1 for Apple. The Guardian, February 15.Google Scholar
  94. Turner, F. 2006. From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Twohey, M. 2000. Land of the Free and MP3. National Journal 32 (3): 182–183.Google Scholar
  96. Tynan, D. 2006. The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time [online]. PCWorld. Available from Accessed 10 Feb 2016.
  97. UK Music. 2016. M easuring Music 2016. London: UK Music. Available from
  98. Viacom Newsroom. 2014. Viacom and Google Resolve Copyright Lawsuit [online]. Available from Accessed 8 Aug 2014.
  99. Webb, S.W. 2000. RIAA v Diamond Multimedia Systems: The Recording Industry Attempts to Slow the MP3 Revolution-Taking Aim at the Jogger Friendly Diamond Rio. Richmond Journal of Law & Technology 7: 5–34.Google Scholar
  100. Weinman, J.J. 2011. How Jobs Rescued Old Media: Music Was Free Online, Until He Showed That People Still Wanted to Pay. Maclean’s 124 (41): 48.Google Scholar
  101. Wikström, P. 2013. The Music Industry: Music in the Cloud, 2nd ed. Cambridge, England: Polity.Google Scholar
  102. Wingfield, N., and E. Smith. 2007. Music’s New Gatekeeper. Wall Street Journal, March 9.Google Scholar
  103. Wlömert, N., and D. Papies. 2016. On-Demand Streaming Services and Music Industry Revenues—Insights from Spotify’s Market Entry. International Journal of Research in Marketing 33 (2): 314–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  104. Wu, T. 2003. When Code Isn’t Law. Virginia Law Review 89 (4): 679–751.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  105. YouTube. 2006. YouTube Unveils New Advertising Concepts [online]. YouTube News Room. Available from Accessed 29 Feb 2016.
  106. Zhu, K., and B. Macquarrie. 2003. The Economics of Digital Bundling: The Impact of Digitization and Bundling on the Music Industry. Communications of the ACM 46 (9): 264–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hyojung Sun
    • 1
  1. 1.Creative Industries InstituteUlster UniversityBelfastUK

Personalised recommendations