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Case Studies by Industry & Concept

This page will host a series of case studies which are relevant to industries and key concepts.  These are tried and tested case studies and will either be classified as classic or contemporary.  The twitter feed is a useful place to look for current issues and case studies affecting the media.
This page is under review/construction...















Video Games




Mobile Phones/Convergent Devices


Internet & Social Media






Global Media


Classic Genre Theory




Evolving Narratives




WE-Media and Democracy













Know your key terms first.
Napster - how a website kick started the download decade and gave rise to the 'Culture of Free'.

Napster was one of the first sites to push peer to peer sharing on a global scale (1999), culminating in over 70,000,000 users.

Shawn Fanning started the website with the help of  a programmer and Sean Parker (who went on to co-develop Facebook).

The video opposite gives a concise breakdown of the key events that occurred as a result of Napster.  In 2014 a full length documentary called 'Downloaded' was also released and can be seen on Youtube.  Below is a summary of video

Napster’s concept essentially allowed music fans to share their music with each other.  In many ways, the model can be used to highlight the Longtail model (Anderson); by accessing people’s hard drives, it was possible to see what other music people listened to (recommendations 1.0).


The web 2.0 sharing model grew in popularity and destroyed the music industry’s profitable distribution model, a model they had benefited from for years; an industry with an annual turnover of $15 billion dollars at the time. Napster's arrival on the scene heralded what is affectionately known as the Download Decade.


Napster was likened to a pirate bazaar and after a year of being set up it was sued by the record industry.  Napster employed lawyers to try and negotiate with the industries, allowing them access to their millions of users to somehow develop a new distribution business model, but Napster was unsuccessful and the courts shut it down in July 2001.


The music industry didn’t account for the fact that the youthful generation had a lack of respect for the music industry and were expecting content for free.  Video and film industries, book shops and newspapers would later feel the same burn as social media and peer to peer sites started to take advantage of improved internet infrastructure and broadband speeds increased.   


It was Steve Jobs of Apple Inc who saw an opportunity created by Napster to legally sell music.  Using their brand identity and the development of iTunes and the iPod, the model eventually saw a move away from expensive CDs to the 99cent download and online libraries.   In the years that followed, with the proliferation of technology, the rise of smart-phones and other convergent devices, faster mobile internet and download speeds, audiences were soon able to start streaming music through sites like Spotify and Pandora.  The opportunities for industries and audiences grew like never before – there was a surge in indie labels and the prosumer began making music in their garage or bedroom and had access to an online distribution model. 


YouTube subsequently became the new internet site where audiences could discover new music.  Despite the threat of legal action from a weary music industry, an agreement was made to either take down copyrighted content or run adverts alongside to the content to allow the music industry to benefit financially from having their content distributed on YouTube.    This meant prosumers like Mackelmore and Lewis (one of thousands) were able to reach mass audiences and get signed on the back of their own success – flipping the music industry business model on its head.

In the future, the music industry needs to consider how to continue to monetise in the digital age.  Artist are making less money from streaming than from physical sales and are resorting to touring to make money.  The upcoming trend now seems to be for audiences to buy virtual tickets and experience the artist in a virtual world. 

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