Global sounds and local brews

Musical developments and music industry in Europe

by Paul Rutten


In September 1996 the European Music Office published its report on “Music in Europe”. The second part of this study was titled “Music, Culture and Society in Europe” and edited by Paul Rutten. It contains six critical essays and five case studies on the cultural value of music in the European Union. This critical contribution, written by Paul Rutten himself, treats the subject of the local interpretations and uses of global trends in popular music.


Rai is a popular and happy music style from Algeria. It simply tells about happy young people in love. In the eyes of conservative forces in Algeria, Rai musicians promote immoral values by singing about love relationships and sexual affairs. Some of Algerian youth consider Rai a liberating force. This “battle over Rai” tragically demonstrates, Rutten argues, music can and does play an important role in the articulation and construction of identity. Cheb Khaled is known as the king of Rai and a lot of his music has some French influence. He had a European hit record with Didi in 1992, taken from his album Khaled (left).


Introduction. Music is a powerful force in the everyday life of most of the people around the globe. It entertains them, it makes them move and at the same time it mediates and defines social and cultural experience. It unites people but also “draws” demarcation lines between groups. As a symbolic form music has a cultural and political history. It articulates and shapes identities. At the same time music is embedded in a national and international institutional context in which it is produced, distributed and consumed.

This essay touches on the role of today’s music in societies and cultures in Europe. It deals with the question of the development of the popular music in contemporary Europe and tries to step over the simplifying notion of “Americanization” by introducing the concept of “creolization” in discussions on musical developments.

An important element of the institutional infrastructure in which European music can perform its social and cultural role is the record industry. This sector of the cultural industry will be discussed in the second part of this essay.

Music and identity. One of the most clear demonstrations of symbolic power of music is the national hymn. La MarseillaiseGod save the Queen as well as the Wilhelmusand Deutschland über alles are musical compositions which are extremely identity-laden. They are icons of a shared collective history of nations and countries and demand respect of the citizens of those countries as well as others. For instance, during the Olympic games when medallists pay respect to national anthem of the country the gold medallist is a citizen of, the symbolic power is demonstrated. It invariably causes turmoil when the national anthem is disrespected.

Not only national anthems have strong symbolic power. For many people Beethoven’s fifth symphony is an archetypal classical work, which symbolizes the superior mid-European classical tradition. Chuck Berry’s rock ‘n’ roll classic Roll over Beethovenpokes fun at the classical music tradition, but is first and foremost a glorification of America’s fifties teenage culture. More then entering in an aesthetical debate, Chuck Berry successfully tapped the teenage record market of his time.

Musical meaning is not static, it mostly changes with time and context. The meaning of music is as much the product of the context and act of consumption and interpretation as it is of the music “itself”.

The meaning of classical music created in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, is different in the context of the late twentieth century. The meaning of a rock ‘n’ roll tune, played on an oldie station in the nineties, is different from the meaning the song had in the fifties when rock ‘n’ roll was considered loud and revolutionary. Folk music developed in pre-industrial, rural societies is still played and loved by musicians in modern times, but it can no longer be considered as an authentic expression of everyday experience in the present age.

At the same time music composed and developed in one part of the world can produce different meanings in another part. Juju and high life has different meanings in West Africa compared to the ones it produces in a western European concert hall. Moreover if a musical style is picked up in another part of the world by musicians and reworked in a specific way by local musicians, eventually combined with the local language, it becomes, a different cultural expression. An example of this process is the development of rap and hip hop in Europe. In almost every western European country one can find rap crews using their mother tongue instead of English or American slang.

The case of Rai. During the writing of this essay, papers reported that for the fourth time in two years an Algerian Rai artist was killed, probably by fundamentalist fellow country men. This time the victim was 28 year old Bechiri Boujemaa a.k.a. Cheb Aziz.

Rai music is the product of a mixing process of Western pop sounds and Algerian music. In the eyes of conservative forces in Algeria, Rai musicians promote immoral values by singing about love relationships and sexual affairs. Some of Algerian youth consider Rai a liberating force. The “battle over Rai” tragically demonstrates the political importance of the musical and lyrically mediation of the contemporary experience in Algeria.

Many Rai musicians have moved to Paris where their music has become an important element in the identity construction of Algerian immigrants. It becomes visible when visiting the little shops around the subway station Barbès where a particular production and distribution system of music “around” Rai and other musical styles from the Magreb, has developed. The main soundcarrier is the cassette, sold in small shops which only provide these musical styles. This system operates, for the biggest part separated from the regular system of production, distribution and retail in France.

At the same time some Rai artists, like Khaled, cross over to a more general audience. Khaled now has the status of popstar in France as well as in his home country. His record company is Barclay which is part of the Polygram company. He had a European hit record with Didi in 1992, taken from his album Khaled, produced by American producer Don Was, who also worked with artists like Bonny Raitt, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones.

Issues. From the examples presented here some issues stand out as particularly important for the argument presented in this paper. Music can and does play an important role in the articulation and construction of identity. Music does not have a fixed meaning, it is produced in the context in which it is consumed. Music is not a static culture form, it changes with time and space. It develops in a process of mixing of styles and borrowing “elements” from the available global encyclopaedia of musical styles.

The next part of this paper will concentrate on issues which regularly arise in discussions on cultural and musical developments in Europe. After that a perspective on these is developed, using the concept of creolization, as it has been introduced by the Swedish anthropologist Ulf Hannerz (1992).

The last part of the essay will be devoted to an important element in the system of production and distribution of music in Europe: the recording industry. Recording music and distributing it on soundcarriers is a prerequisite for every musical composition and style to leave a mark on European culture. The availability of systems of production and distribution of musical recordings is essential for the development and articulation of music’s potential in modern societies, dominated by an extensive range of electronic media.

The same goes for an infrastructure which provides musicians the possibility to perform nationally and elsewhere on the continent. Educational facilities enable the passing through of creative potential to future generations of musicians, whereas mass media like radio and television are extremely important in exposing and thereby promoting musical works.

Americanization, globalization and European culture. Current discussions on the present and future state of European cultures invariable address the issues of “globalization” and “Americanization”.

The British cultural theorist Stuart Hall once described the notion of “Americanization” as “… the mirage which European societies held out of them, of how things could actually get if we did not do something about them” (Hall, 1991). Roughly speaking the notion of Americanization refers to the idea that firstly, due to the world-wide consumption of the products of the American entertainment industries and secondly, due to the fact that locally produced cultural products are increasingly fabricated according to the formulas set by these industries, national cultures get dislocated and wither away. In the end societies around the world would become increasingly similar to American society.

Globalization is a much broader concept. It is discussed in disciplines ranging from economics to cultural studies and communication studies. Drivers behind globalization in the economic field are for instance economics of scale (providing standardized products to as many customers as possible), the transferability of competitive advantage from one country to another (leading to increasing cross-border activities of former national industries) as well as the development of logistics on the international scale with a prominent role for information technology (for instance leading to the transfer of labour to developing countries) (e.g. Lovelock and Yip, 1996).

In critical assessments of the development of globalization in the field of culture, Americanization is often perceived as the ultimate consequence of globalization. However some scholars criticize this linear line of thinking. Critics of the “Americanization” thesis recognize that there is a tendency in most countries of the world, including the European, towards American cultural products taking up a bigger share of the symbolic space then ever before. However, in their view, this would not imply that the differences between cultures have been or will be wiped out. Research has for instance shown that the same television series can generate different sets of meaning in different cultural contexts (Liebes and Katz, 1990). Schlessinger (1995) rejects the equation which relates the presence of American media texts to homogenizing effects. He labels such a determinism as “the fallacy of distribution” and emphasizes that the distribution of cultural products, does not automatically lead to a cultural change in the direction of the message content. This assertion leads up to one of the central issues in the discussions on globalization and Americanization of European cultures: how do national and local cultures develop in the midst of global communication activities? A closer look at recent developments in the musical field provides some interesting insights in this problem.

Music as the most internationalized cultural form. Music is very often perceived as the most internationalized form of culture. People in many different countries, speaking different languages often relate to the same kinds of music. That goes for today’s popular music as well as classical music. The fact that the lyrics are in another language than their own does not prevent people of loving musical compositions and performances originating in other cultures. This is an old phenomenon. Opera’s and classical songs using German, French, Italian and Spanish lyrics crossed and still cross borders easily. In the classical field the performing of music with lyrics in other languages than the mother tongue of the performer is common practice. In today’s music, it is mostly songs with English lyrics that have an international appeal.

However, also in the field of today’s music, European trans-border success of songs in German, Italian and French, even in countries were these languages are not the first, occurs regularly. Within European countries, there is a certain tendency to combine “global sounds” with local languages, not bothering about international success, thereby creating a form which “fits better” in the broader social, cultural, historical and linguistic circumstances. This issue will be treated more extensively further on in this essay.

Interaction of global and local sounds. So, how should the relationship between “the global and the local” in European music scenes be assessed? In this essay this relationship is perceived as one of dynamic interaction. The development of today’s music in many European countries in the past decades is marked by a process of interaction between local sounds — music developed within the European countries and regions and very often perceived as indigenous to the culture — and popular sounds coming from across the ocean. It needs to be stressed that the sounds that are perceived as indigenous to a culture, are themselves most of the time the product of cross-fertilization. Some observations on developments in the Netherlands might be instructive.

A study on the programming policy of a Dutch radio organization in the inter-bellum shows that issues concerning Americanization were part of discussions between responsible program directors back then. More specifically the question if one should “give in” to audience preferences for jazz and big band music was an important issue of discussion (Maatjens, 1995). During the inter-bellum and shortly after Word War II big band music boomed for evident reasons. In Holland there were even musicians and bands which combined jazz music with Dutch lyrics.

Essentially it were not so much jazz in the thirties and forties or American rock ‘n’ roll music in the fifties that changed the popular soundscape in the Netherlands and other European countries thoroughly. It was the British beat music that did. Since the growing popularity of beat music, the United Kingdom has joined the US as an international trend-setting country. This has led to a situation in Britain were musical exports double imports. In 1993 total exports were estimated 1,158 million pounds, whereas import accounted for 587 million pounds. The net surplus of 571 million pounds is similar to the net earnings of the British steel industry (British Invisibles, 1995).

A study of the developments in the Dutch popular charts shows that in the Netherlands the advent of British beat and American rock from the mid-sixties on went at the expense of popular genres from other European countries, like for instance the French chanson and the German “Schlager” (Rutten, 1992). At the same time however, the advent of these musical genres were basic for a new development in the local music scene. Genres like beat, rock and pop, punk and new wave as well as soul, disco, funk and later house, were taken up by local musicians and in several occasions developed into distinct local styles. Examples are for instance the emergence of a beat scene in the Dutch city of the Hague in the sixties, which even brought forth some chart success in the US, as well as the fusion of classical music and rock in the works of Dutch bands like Focus (featuring Jan Akkerman) in the seventies. Developments in the early eighties saw a wave of linguistic “rock nationalism” when a great number of bands put pop, rock and ska music to the Dutch language.

Developments like these can be witnessed in several European countries were processes of fusion and mixing of musical styles from different winds had interesting outcomes. Moreover European metropolises have developed into melting pots of musical styles, providing ground to many multi-cultural music scenes to develop. For immigrants from many parts of the world, music has become a major focus in developing their identity in a strange world. This coming together of musical streams has led to processes of cross-fertilization which has produced and promoted numerous interesting forms. In a similar way as for instance Irish immigrants and Afro-Americans have left their mark on today’s American music, immigrants from the Caribbean and the West Indies have left their traces in British music and immigrants from former French colonies determine the face and the sound of French rap.

Creolization. The Swedish anthropologist Ulf Hannerz (1992) has introduced a concept which is very helpful in understanding the processes described above: creolization. It is helpful in understanding the interaction of music cultures within the European context as well as elsewhere. The concept is developed in linguistics and anthropology. A creole culture is a culture which developed out of an interaction process of two or more different cultures in such a way that the new culture better serves as meaning system to sustain communal life in the context in which it developed, then the cultures from which it has been constructed. Creolization points to the processes that underlie the development of a creole culture.

Hannerz does not conceive of the world as a collection of cultures which are bound to nation states and territories. He prefers the metaphor of a cultural oecumene. There are no strict cultural boundaries. There exist numerous cultural connections which keep the world together and which cut across nations and territories. Moreover, according to Hannerz, not all cultures are territorially bounded. This assertion can be exemplified by the nature of the present wave of electronic dance music which is mainly produced in continental European countries, but does not seem to contain direct references to the specific localities or countries.

The notion of an indigenous culture which supposedly existed before the trans-national industries touched upon it, is contested by Hannerz. It would deny the dynamic nature of culture. “Yet in many great places, decades or centuries of contact and change, of many kinds and intensities, have already shaped that local scene which meets the trans-national culture industries of the late twentieth century” (Hannerz, 1992, 226).

Cultures develop in a process of absorption and appropriation of influences which are fed in from outside. The concept of creolization connects very well to developments in the field of today’s music. Observations of the Latin American scholar Jesus Martin Barbero support this idea:

Music is perhaps the most powerful and expressive of the appropriations and re-elaborations with which the popular sectors produce their identity. (…) The mixture of rock and tango, cumbia and buaino, and electric guitar and quena are without doubt a desecration of the original forms. But what could be more symbolic of the social and cultural changes in the urban landscape than mixture of Andean and black music by the popular masses of Lima?” (Barbero, 1993, 20)

An important element in both Hannerz and Barbero’s concept of cultural change is, what is called by Barbero the appropriation and re-elaborations of music by local musicians. This points to the process in which musicians try to “tune” sounds and lyrics of music which comes from afar to local circumstances. This process can be illustrated by a development which has gained importance in the past ten to fifteen years and was referred to before: the combination of global pop sounds with continental European languages.

Global sounds and linguistic nationalism. From the early eighties on it has become more and more common practice that European rock, pop- and rap-artists combine these musical styles, which due to their origin had a kind of “natural connection” with the English language, with their own native language. In most cases this is the dominant language of a country. However in some cases the language put to pop and rock is a local dialect. This is an example of the creolization process in music. Through the combination of the “own language” with music form afar, the cultural form fits better to the local “feel”. This process can be perceived as the appropriation and a re-elaboration of a musical form through the language. People who do not understand the language are partly excluded from the aesthetic experience, whereas people from the language community are included through the same process. A language is a symbol in itself, it is one of the main constituents of the identity of a community or a nation, its an index of ideas and values. It gives people access to social reality and in terms of expression it is the prime medium (Van den Bulck, 1995). The combination of global sounds and local language can be conceived as an appropriation of a global culture.

Analysis of the motives of Dutch rock writers and performers has yielded three elements which seem to be central in this phenomenon (Rutten, 1994).

Musicians feel that they can express their feelings much better in their own language than in English. The “taken for grantedness” of singing in English is reversed by some musicians, by pointing to the fact they can express themselves far much better than in English. One of them states: “It is very well possible to learn to speak a foreign language, but you never get familiar with the culture behind it. Each word has an emotional value and if you did not grow up in that culture, you will never be so “to the point” in the choice of your words as in your mother tongue.”

The second point made concerns the matching of the Dutch language with musical styles like pop, rock and reggae. Dutch as a singing language has been “colonized” by more traditional popular genres. A Dutch rock language had to be invented, developed and in a certain sense “tuned” to the music. Some musicians note that the tuning of lyrics to the music, sometimes leads to a reverse process, whereby music changes as the result of matching it with the lyrics.

Finally performers noticed that, during live-shows, the audience is much more responsive. A performer which used to sing in English, notes that even when open and abstract lyrics are used, the contact with the audience is much better. Language does not only have an instrumental value, but also a cultural one, irrespective of content.

The process analysed above is typical for the dialectic development of music cultures in Europe. The suggestion here is that many similar processes of fusion (not necessarily only in the combination of global sounds and local language, but also in musical terms) take place all over Europe. This is certainly not a new phenomenon. This analysis intends to look at music and musical developments in a way that escapes traditional fallacies, departing from static concepts of culture (eventually subdivided in high and mass) or of a simple juxtaposition of global (presumably American) and local, so-called indigenous culture, neglecting the interaction processes which form the driving force behind musical developments.

The institutional context of European music: the record industry. Having analysed the specific dynamics of change in European’s music of today, the question remains how this cultural development is embedded in a national and European institutional context. How do institutions that are involved in the production, promotion and distribution of today’s music leave a mark on the music culture of today? It is far beyond the scope of this essay to come near to a complete answer to this question (see also: Bennett et al., 1993). In the remaining part of this essay the focus will be on one of the central elements in the institutional structure in which today’s popular music develops: the European soundcarrier market an the European recording industry. Other elements in that structure are for instance: concerts and concert-agencies and concert-promoters, music rights and rights administration, music programming and mass media, music education and music policy.

The statement of Polygram President and Chief Execute Officer Alain Lévy presenting the 1996 interim results on july 24, 1996 contains the following interesting quote:

Another area of growth potential is the continued growth in national repertoire in addition to our investment in the U.S. We are committed to national music which means we allocate resources strategically around the world where they will be most effective. We are already the leading company in local music in Europe and the Far East. To supplement this, we are also focusing on local music in Japan, Latin America and Eastern Europe. We have a strong local release schedule for the second half including: from Italy Zucchero — Greatest Hits; from Latin America Nana Mouskouri’s Spanish Album; from Sweden The Cardigans; from France MC Solaar. In the Far East and Southeast Asia, Mavis Fan, Jacky Chueng and Leon Lai; and from Japan, a second album from Spitz.” (Lévy, 1996)

This quote indicates that national repertoire is not only an interesting cultural phenomenon, but also an attractive business opportunity for record industry. National repertoire is defined as the music from the popular genres which is performed by musicians living in a specific country. All of the trans-national music companies like Polygram, BMG, EMI, Sony Music and Warner Music and most of the so-called independent companies produce, distribute and market national repertoire resulting from creolization processes as described above.

In the same way as Polygram President and CEO Alain Lévy concludes that the economic importance of national repertoire for the trans-national recording industry is increasing, a study commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science indicates that since the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the volume of national repertoire is on the rise in countries like the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Spain and Italy (Rutten, Dekkers and Jansen, 1996). Growth of domestic, national repertoire goes at the expense of international popular repertoire. The general experience in music industry circles is that international megastars, perform less well compared to the mid-eighties.

These developments point to an interesting case in the music business, an important branch of the global culture industry. There seem to be limits to the economic rationale that a global industry should concentrate on providing the same products to as many customers in as many countries as possible. This description matches partly with some activities of the global music industry: distributing, marketing and promoting megastars like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Sting and U2, to name a few. The music of these artists is found in every corner of the globe.

At the same time however, as indicated by Levy’s words and the everyday practice within the music industry trans-national as well as independent companies work on national markets with recordings of national artists. The ultimate goal of this activity is, in many cases, the marketing of national artists on an European or even global level. But as experience shows, there are numerous national acts which do not cross borders but provide for profitable business on national markets.

The aforementioned Dutch study is concerned with the recent developments in national repertoire in the Netherlands. In that country, the share of national music was at its lowest point ever in 1989 with a share of 11%. Since then there has been a revival of the popularity of national repertoire, with a very prominent role for music with Dutch lyrics. In the study the nature and the background of the upheaval have been assessed. It appears that the genres which contribute most to the revival are (Dutch language) Middle of the Road (MOR), “local” popular genres (in Dutch) as well as modern dance music. Pop- and rock music do not share in the revival. The most successful Dutch pop- and rock bands sing in Dutch.

There is not a single cause for the revival in Dutch popular music. It seems that since there is a sales drop on the record market of the international megastars, there is an extra incentive for local offices of global music companies to invest in Dutch talent. Apart from that, there is a number of small independent labels which have rather successfully invested in Dutch local popular genres. Many of the records of national artists released by them as well as by the major companies get much airplay on a relatively new commercial radio station Radio Noordzee Nationaal, which started broadcasting over cable in the beginning of the nineties and got an FM license around 1994. Radio Noordzee Nationaal plays 90% Dutch national music and has a market share of between 9 and 10% on the national radio market. Another factor which, according to people in the music industry has stimulated sales of national music was the fact that the quality of production as well as marketing of national repertoire was brought up to international standards.

Table 1 gives an insight in the importance of national, domestic repertoire in the countries of Western and Southern Europe. It should be noted that national repertoire points to the popular genres performed by musicians from the country to which the figure refers. So music sales of a German schlager singer in Switzerland is considered “international popular music” in Switzerland and thereby lands in the same category as for instance an American heavy metal band. The share of European music (including the domestic, national repertoire) in each of the countries is higher.

Table 1: Market share of domestic (national repertoire), international popular repertoire and classical music (%) in Western and Southern European countries and total soundcarrier sales in US $ million (1994) (Source: IFPI 1996).

 

Domestic

International

Classical

Total Sales

 

(%)

Popular (%)

(%)

x $ 1.000.000

Greece

56.9

39.0

4.1

100.7

United Kingdom

51.1

41.9

7.0

2 366.4

Italy

49.0

43.1

7.9

534.7

France

43.8

47.3

8.9

1 923.4

Finland

38.5

51.8

9.7

111.6

Germany

33.0

57.0

10.0

3 466.7

Spain

32.5

55.5

12.0

530.9

Sweden

30.0

65.0

5.0

332.0

Denmark

29.0

66.7

4.3

265.6

Norway

25.9

69.0

5.1

256.3

Netherlands

20.0

67.9

12.1

629.4

Portugal

21.6

70.2

8.2

108.4

Ireland

15.8

81.3

2.9

65.5

Austria

13.7

77.2

9.1

346.3

Belgium

13.0

77.0

10.0

403.7

Switzerland

7.0

81.9

11.1

365.5

The countries in table 1 are ranked according to the market share of national repertoire. The fact that the three big European markets rank among the six countries with the biggest share of local product, points to the working of the “economics of scale” factor on their internal market. Since their markets are relatively big, the economic basis for the exploitation of local repertoire on the local market solely is far better then on a smaller market. Additionally for the UK, as noted before, the fact that this country is trend-setting internationally, translates in many releases of English artists nationally.

The high position of Greece, Italy and Finland shows that economics of scale is not the sole and decisive factor for the market share of local repertoire. At the same time a small market share of national repertoire on the national market for soundcarriers does not block success on the global market as the case of Ireland shows with global success for artists like U2, Enya and the Cranberries.

To get a clearer picture of how music, produced in European countries gets to circulate on the continent it is relevant to have a brief look at the structure of the European recording industry.

The earlier mentioned trans-national companies have an international head office, mostly located in the UK or the US. Apart from determining the global strategy and policy, the international office is responsible for the production and marketing of the music of global megastars which sell world-wide. The international repertoire pre-dominantly comes from the US and the UK. The US and the UK are considered trend-setters in today’s music. If artists from other regions, like for instance the European continent and Ireland break out of their own territories and are considered to have global sales potential, their recordings will also be dealt with by the international office. That is for instance the case with the Irish band U2. Such a step is necessary since a local branch office lacks the resources, possibilities and infrastructure to promote an artist on a global scale.

European branch offices function as national distribution and marketing units for the global acts and in most cases have certain own competencies and responsibilities, for instance to produce and market national talent on their national markets and abroad. Many of them operate on the local market with recordings of national artists and try to persuade other European national offices and those in other parts of the world to release the music they acquired. However, there is no obligation for, for instance the German office of a certain company to release a recording of an artist signed by the French branch office of the same company. Generally speaking it is the autonomy of the branch offices to take decisions on these questions. The branch offices are committed to release the music of the international megastars provided by the international head office.

In order to encourage pan-European success of continental artists, directors of national continental European branches of some trans-national companies get together to decide on pan-European priority releases. Every branch-office is committed to release, market and promote the recordings on the European priority list. Through this arrangement several European artists started a pan-European career, as for instance the aforementioned Italian star Zucchero. Generally speaking however, the major part of the sales of music by major companies is realized with sales of international repertoire.

The so-called independent music companies are generally speaking more concerned with local productions. However through an elaborated system of licensing, most of them succeed in selling music abroad through music fairs like Midem and through their existing business relationships. In that sense the small and medium sized enterprises in the music industry also escape the economic practice that those enterprises mostly operate mainly on the local or national market. Compared to other economic sectors the small music business, operates on an relatively international scale.

Sometimes independents have a steady working relationship with others and form a network through which music acquired by one of them gets more easily distributed on the continent. In other occasions, when independents grow bigger they open up offices in other European markets. They also work together with major companies. Especially in the field of dance music several independent companies have gained considerable success.

There is tendency in the past five to ten years for trans-national companies to take a share of independent companies or take them over all together. The main reason for this development is that major companies want to acquire access to the catalogue of independent companies and want to add expertise on artist developing and marketing in specific regions or musical genres to their existing expertise.

Conclusion. As has been demonstrated in this paper there are plenty of reasons to consider today’s music in Europe as an energetic and lively form of contemporary cultural expression which has become an intrinsic part of the societies and cultures of Europe. The first part of this paper has analysed the specific dynamic which is the main engine of developments in today’s music in Europe.

From the brief overview of the activities of the European recording industry it can be concluded that the structure and operation of this industry, provides an extensive infrastructure for the European creative potential to develop.

However, the backbone of the European music industry consists of a range of artists and their music who are marketed in Europe as well as world-wide, among which music and musicians from the European continent are not overly represented. Especially at this moment, when national musical activity and markets for national repertoire are booming in many countries of Europe, it is challenging to think of concepts to further improve the circulation of musical products on record around the continent.

In this context it should be noted that music probably will be one of the first cultural products which will be delivered electronically over interactive distribution networks to consumers. Music and music industry have always been in the vanguard of technological developments in the information sector. The role and place of music from European countries in this new distribution environment should be considered. The potentialities of these new distribution systems are immense, it could make distribution much easier and maybe cheaper, but at the other hand the potential threats, especially in terms of protections of rights of writers, composers, publishers and producers, can be a threat to a healthy exploitation of musical products by those parties.

In that same line of thinking it could be fruitful to think about ways to further develop cross-border activity in the field of concert and concert promotion. Performing before live audiences is another important element in the structure in which European music can and should flourish. Other elements mentioned before are for instance education and music policy. It is clear that many national, regional and local administrations have developed specific set-ups. It is worthwhile to investigate how a European music policy could promote activity on a European scale in order to stimulate processes of musical interaction as well as provide audiences in Europe with new musical experiences.

http://www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/DATABASES/MIE/Part2_chapter01.shtml

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