From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The record industry is the part of the music industry that earns profit by selling sound recordings of music. In the early years of the phonograph in the late 19th century, the music industry was dominated by the publishers of sheet music. With the start of the 20th century the importance of recorded sound grew in the business, and at about the end of the first World War, records supplanted sheet music as the largest player in the music business. The business has largely been dominated and controlled by the record industry, as the economics of mass-production of copies allow the manufacture of valuable music recordings for a tiny fraction of their sale price. There have been repeated allegations of price fixing by the record industry.
The Recording Artists' Coalition exists to represent the interests of recording artists in their fight against what they see as inequitable treatment by the record industry.
There is a fundamental tension between the two industries – they have been in an uneasy symbiotic / parasitic relationship since this time, which is threatened by the advent of new technologies.
Critics of the record industry today have compared it to the buggy whip industry, fighting the disruptive technology of file sharing by all possible means. It is worth remembering though that the sheet music industry were resistant to original phonographic industries, who in turn were initially resistant to radio, television, home taping and so forth.