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The Internet has profoundly challenged the divides that traditional media have established between production and reception

There is no doubt that the Internet has had a vast impact on society today and its massive growth worldwide has influenced domestic and commercial users alike. In particular, it is obvious that the Internet, although used in many schools and businesses across the globe, has become a huge outlet for the purposes of entertainment and leisure and the media industry has boomed since its arrival 'on the scene'. This essay aims at looking at this impact in regards specifically to popular music and will look at how the Internet has altered the way the popular music industry operates and is consumed within society. The essay will first explore the nature of the 'traditional' popular music industry prior to and outside of the Internet, the impact of the Internet in general on our society, as well as its impact in terms of globalisation and on the local community. Finally, the essay will explore the Internet's impact on the popular music industry by investigating into the impact directly on the music itself and its effect on the operations of the industry in terms of it as a business.

Firstly, however, it is arguable that if we are to look at how the Internet has "challenged the divides that traditional media have established"2 in regard to popular music production and consumption, we must first look at how the popular music industry operates both outside of the Internet today and how it operated prior to the Internet's enormous growth in society.

This becomes more apparent with the development of software and hardware that allows consumers to become their own producers. Jones and Jones suggest that the Internet has created a digital battle between Digital Liberation and Digital Corporatism.11 In their argument, it is indicated that the Internet has the potential for consumers to become producers and directors, as technological advances results in less need for specialist expertise and that the Internet in particular allows for this due to its interactive features. In arguing this then, it can be said that the Internet has challenged the divide between production and reception to such an extent that there is no divide between them. If the consumer can also be the producer then there is no break.

It is clear from this investigation then, that the Internet has the ability to play a large part in challenging the traditional methods that have been implemented within popular music. It is clear that in fact it has done this already. However, there are many aspects to the Internet that makes it a limiting outlet for media texts and that limits its impact as a result. The largest of these issues at present is its availability to everyone. The Internet is gained at a cost, not only for the necessary hardware but to access it on a regular basis also. As such its audience is too small for it to solely support the popular music industry. As such it is argued that the Internet, although it has had a vast impact on the music industry in terms of bringing such media texts to a global arena, it is still unable to truly and entirely challenge the divides that traditional media have established.

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