iTunes: Breaking Barriers and Building Walls

iTunes is the largest music retailer . . . ever! It makes Wal-Mart seem small, and just a few years ago Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and other big box retailers put record stores out of business. Many people saw the Internet as a way for independent musicians to circumvent the major record labels’ grip on music distribution. As it turns out, the Internet has done little to help independent artists get their music to new fans. Yes, there is the occasional exception to the rule from Justin Bieber to OK Go, but the exception only reinforces the rule. My essay appearing in Popular Music & Society entitled “iTunes: Breaking Barriers and Building Walls” explores the way that iTunes has created the same barriers for independent musicians through digital distribution as existed from physical distribution.