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Against the Musicians (Greek and Latin Music Theory) by Sextus Empiricus, Denise Davidson Greaves

By Sextus Empiricus, Denise Davidson Greaves

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This overlooks the predominance of LP sales over singles since the early 1970s, (see below), and the generally accepted tendency to accord greater aesthetic weight to the longer format. Further, it sees market diversity as a direct function of the number of individual hit records in any one year. But, as Laing (1986:335) points out, to confirm this argument it would be necessary to undertake a critical stylistic analysis of the actual recordings that were hits, on the basis of their musical features rather than the companies that released them.

The bureaucratically organised oligopolistic record companies of 1948 were well-suited to efficiently producing a large number of standard products, but were slow to adjust to the demand for more varied product. In the new situation of successful challenge by the independents, the majors lost three quarters of the market share. Yet they gradually recaptured their preeminent position by becoming financing and distribution companies for a series of divisions, that were allowed to operate, in effect, as independent small firms.

In 1989, the major independent Island Records, which had popularised reggae in the West, went to Polygram for £200 million. C. Hammer’s dance-pop, watered-down rap, Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ’Em, was the best selling album of 1990 (Light, 1990). Into the 1990s, media conglomeration is the name of the game, and is being enacted increasingly on a global scale. The industry as a whole has become progressively more integrated, both vertically and horizontally. Record companies continue to be at the power centre, because of their control of distribution, and, as we have seen, the international market is now dominated by a handful of companies.

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