The Change of the Music Marketplace Experience

As a continuation to my last blog post, going in depth with iTunes, I would like to now explore how the medium of iTunes created its own virtual environment to distribute music and affect our experience and buying music.  iTunes is unique in that it’s the only digital media marketplace that requires you to download software to your device or comes pre-installed on all Apple products.  With other digital media stores such as amazon the user can simply access their digital media store and purchases by visiting their website,  What Apple offers with iTunes is convenience and syncing across Apple products for the user and it pioneered this craft because it was the first digital media marketplace of its kind and time.

Apple changed everything about the process of buying a record and experiencing the physical copy of a record.  The clash of new and old was inevitable by the way iTunes flipped the buying experience for consumers from personal to digital.  Up until the 2000’s, connoisseurs of music were accustomed to going to record stores and buying physical copies of music in CD’s or vinyl.  iTunes cut out the inconvenience and hassle of having to go to the record store and allow those who download their software the option to buy music right from their computer and have it playing in seconds.  Through iTunes, Apple changed the whole experience of going out and buying music as well, no more was there a collection of people outside of a Tower Record store for a midnight release party of their favorite bands new album.  Apple changed the whole experience of the physical record, from  opening a CD case, looking at the included artwork and sometimes included extras that would come with records to going to your computer clicking buy and listening to your music through your computer or with the iPod.

I would argue that iTunes destroyed a lot of social interaction between music lovers through the atmosphere that is lost from going to record stores.  It used to be that you could go in to a record store and explore all the different music that was there, interact with other perusers and get suggestions from the employees or people there based on selections you liked.  With iTunes you have the new releases at the top of the page and the top singles and albums taking up the home screen.  Although apple has the “Genius” which uses an algorithm to determine songs you may like based on purchases you’ve made with them, it’s not the same.  It loses the personal connection and replaces that with some machine and code saying if you like this then what about this.  I’ve never found this very helpful at least.

Apple has changed the environment in buying music from record stores, being around other music lovers and fans and the experience of having the physical copy of a record.  Apple completely destroyed these practices for convenience and the ability for iTunes users to download albums from their collection instead.  In addition to that they have changed the whole way we view music from a once physical form to now something we can’t see or feel, it’s now an immaterial form which gives off a different experience.


Netflix is the Massage

As mentioned before, Netflix was able to change the television industry. But how was it able to change it in just about 25 years? From having good marketing strategies to the timing. When Netflix was founded it knew that people enjoyed buying and renting movies. To make it even more convenient, Netflix started a DVD delivery system. As Marshall McLuhan mentions that we focus on the obvious. We know that there are changes, the advantages and disadvantages of a new system but rarely do we know that the new system or invention had changed our lives. Sometimes it is a long change, other times it is a subtle change that we don’t even realize it (Mark Federman)  “Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication” (page 8) bring up a good point on how Netflix works. The content of Netflix is great but the reason why it could become so big wasn’t because of its content but the nature of the media. It is convenient. We don’t have to store physical DVDs or go to a store to get a movie. We can see anything easily anywhere.

Netflix being electric technology could change the way society is now because “electric technology fosters and encourages unification and involvement. It is impossible to understand social and cultural changes without knowledge of the workings of media” Which is true, Netflix was introduced in 1997. There were a lot of technological improvements but we still didn’t understand it well enough. We didn’t that it was slowly changing the DVD industry because we couldn’t understand it well enough.

McLuhan also mentions that a medium is the message; it is an extension of us. It is proven to be true with the analysis of different mediums. In this case, Netflix is an extension of us. We might deny that it isn’t an extension of ourselves but we are the reason why that medium is so big. Even the content of the medium is tailored to our preferences and our likes. By watching certain movies and television shows, Netflix can give you a suggestion of other movies and television shows that you might like to watch. That isn’t the only thing that it is a part of us. It tries to be like us by having a “brain”. It categorizes the contents into different parts very much like our brain. Netflix is also able to tell you the likes of others by getting information from other social media like Facebook.

McLuhan argues that the message is the medium. The content or the use of the innovation is not the message. The message is the “change in inter-personal dynamics that the innovation brings with it” (Mark Federman) In the case of Netflix, it isn’t the content of Netflix or how it was founded but possibly the changes of lifestyle of us as humans and the changes in users in the internet because of Netflix. It is the change of point of view in people because of Netflix. Because of Netflix, people have found ways to learn about less known shows and movies and some have a positive attitude toward the movie industry when knowing it isn’t all “Hollywood”. The point is that the obvious changes aren’t the actual message. The message is hidden, it is not obvious.

For McLuhan, the changes, the innovation was television. It is interesting to see how that had change over time. Television is still around but the way it is watched has changed a lot. But I also believe that McLuhan knew that there would be changes. Just like he said “the medium, our process, of our time- electric technology – is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life. It is forcing us to reconsider and reevaluate practically every thought, every action, and every institution formerly taken for granted” Many innovations have change the way our society works from our personal life to our social life. The changes have its advantages and disadvantages but many things that we took for granted in the past and in the present might not be there anymore in the future because of the many changes.

In conclusion, like many different mediums, Netflix was able to change the way our society is. It reshaped and restructured how our personal and social life is. It changed the way different industries that we took for granted, disappear or restructure.


  1. Mark Federman, “What is the Meaning of The Medium is the Message?”. July 23, 2004.
  2. McLuhan, Marshall. “The Medium is the Massage”
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