Prospecting, Sharecropping, and the Recording Industry

25 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2023

See all articles by Olufunmilayo Arewa

Olufunmilayo Arewa

Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University

Matt Stahl

University of Western Ontario - Faculty of Information and Media Studies

Date Written: November 28, 2023

Abstract

Digital-era disruption has had a significant impact on the recording industry and the business of music more generally. Digital-era music disruption draws attention to patterns of continuity within the recording industry. Notably, despite widespread use of digital technologies for the creation, dissemination, and consumption of music, core recording industry business models largely still draw from the predigital era. Recording industry business models have long been compared to other exploitative business models based on debt, including the sharecropping business. Business models in the recording industry have been a source of dispute by a broad range of recording artists, including highly successful ones such as Taylor Swift. These models have also reflected racialized patterns of extraction that have particularly disadvantaged generations of African American artists. This Article considers the impact of racialized extraction patterns in the recording industry for the racial wealth gap. It also discusses the need for alternative business and compensation models for all artists in the recording industry.

Keywords: Music, digital technologies, recording industry, racial wealth gap

JEL Classification: K00, K1, K10, M20, L80, L82, O1, O10, O14, Z1, Z19

Suggested Citation

Arewa, Olufunmilayo and Stahl, Matt, Prospecting, Sharecropping, and the Recording Industry (November 28, 2023). Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law, Vol. 25, No. 2, 2023, George Mason Legal Studies Research Paper No. LS 23-26, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4538611 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4538611

Olufunmilayo Arewa (Contact Author)

Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Matt Stahl

University of Western Ontario - Faculty of Information and Media Studies ( email )

North Campus Building, Room 240
London, Ontario N6A 5B7
Canada

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