"There are many of us that do not believe that there can be a beneficial outcome to our adoption of the Internet and its effects on the music business. I agree wholeheartedly that there has been a negative effect on an existing part of the music industry. However, bearing in mind that we can look back through history we can see that the printing press served as a catalyst for the music business of the time. Music publishers as we know started off as sheet music publishers a part of the music industry that was born out of the adoption of the printing press. Before the printing press all music was hand copied which of course was time consuming and very expensive. There were many challenges in using the printing press to duplicate music for example clarity. Printing the alphabet was an easier task by comparison as all characters are independent of each other. Music notation, however, included staff lines with notes printed on top of each other. Many techniques were tried, tested and abandoned during a hundred year period, from woodcuts where music notation was treated as freeform illustration and block printed onto the page to engravings. In both the cases of woodcuts and engravings within the new printing press technology, the composers suffered setbacks. In the case of woodcuts it was impossible to be accurate and the woodcuts were frail leading to further inaccuracies. Engravings didn’t meet the demands of composers at the time who worked with chords for keyboard music, multiple voices and musical ornamentation. The solution was the “rolling press” which was designed for the purpose of printing from engraved copper plates. As this was economically feasible the method spread across Europe. What is interesting about this period of history is the parallels we can draw with our present. In this incredible active time of innovation there were many start ups in the music publishing sector, all of which tried to solve problems. What was needed was one person to refine and mature the process and show others how it could be used profitably. In the case of music publishing it was Pierre Attaignant. Pierre Attaignant was a Frenchman whose music printing method comprised of a single “press” or impression of the music notation. His results were a little messy as the staff lines did not always match up. However, his method was the most economical and remained for the best part of two hundred years.
What came about as a result of the mass adoption of the printing press to the music industry? The late 19th Century saw a massive explosion in “parlour music.” It became fashionable to have a piano in every middle class home. The middle class had more disposable income to spend on musical instruments and education and more leisure time to give to recreational music making. This meant a rise in the number amateur pianists and singers and more and more songs were written specifically for the parlour music trend. In the 19th Century the music industry was dominated by music publishers and music publishers fought a constant battle with sheet music pirates. It should be duly noted that the very sector of the music industry that pays us today injured the live music industry of the 19th Century. After all why would anyone go to see a live performance when they could just play the music in their homes themselves."