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“You are required to write a 3000-word essay critically evaluating the roles and functions of digital tools,
platforms and networks designed to enhance self-promotion, commerce and intellectual property ownership
in the current and future marketplaces for a DIY artist releasing a debut album and supporting promotional
activities. Your paper must follow standard academic conventions (i.e. third person narrative, referencing,
bibliography, etc.)”
For more information please check the pdf files.

The essay should also contains some in-text citations.


Digital Tools for a DIY artist


Introduction. 2

The Concept of DIY Art. 3

The Functions of Digital Tools, Platforms and Networks. 4

Intellectual Property Ownership. 7

The Way Forward for DIY Artists. 11

Conclusion. 12


The progressive development of technology has revolutionized numerous industries, and in a great way one of them being entertainment. Many digital tools, media platforms and networks have sprouted up to promote integral aspects of the entertainment industry such as self-promotion, commerce and copyright property rights in marketplaces, both current and those that extend into the future. Noticeably, so-called do-it-yourself (DIY) culture has emerged. It is being embraced and employed by debut artists and professional ones alike in an attempt to take advantage of these technological advancements. This move is essential to them in the sense that it enables them to exploit the opportunities presented by these technologies to elevate their careers and status in the music industry. The community of artists using DIY is slowly and steadily rising up to re-define the music scene (Agamben, 2001).


In line with this development, this essay will address the roles and functions of these digital tools and platforms in promoting the activities and initiatives of these artists who are striving to achieve identity and recognition among the musical fraternity and hopefully make a name for themselves. However, to tackle this issue, it is crucial to understand the concept behind DIY artists and the work ethics surrounding them. This approach can give a better comprehension of what this community is founded on in terms of driving force, ethics and principles in addition to their impact in society particularly in the music scene.

The Concept of DIY Art

The term “DIY” is an abbreviation for ‘Do-it-Yourself” which basically encompasses the possession of diverse skills and methods for problem-solving. The approach is currently been endorsed by many artists including painters, decorators and musicians (Levine and Heimerl, 2008). It fundamentally entails shaping and transforming any substance or entity of interest without depending on the help from other specialists or professionals in the same field (Wolf and Mcquitty, 2011). This behavior has been attributed to quite a number of factors with the most dominant one being motivation specifically within marketplaces and based on the overwhelming need to enhance one’s own identity and brand oneself in a particular field. These market-driven motivations include, but are not limited to, the need to fill a certain market gap, lack of quality products and services, and economic prospects (Wolf and Mcquitty, 2011).

This shift in operation promotes the idea and concept that any person who is future-oriented, is highly aggressive, and is self-driven can accomplish myriad tasks and activities if he/she sets his/her mind to it (Tanenbaum, Williams and Desjardins, 2013). To a great extent, this ideology is what constitutes the ethics and principles that are being extensively applied by DIY artists. Additionally, empowerment of persons and the corresponding associated communities is at the core of these ethics in that it seeks to encourage individuals to always pursue other alternatives and approaches in achieving their goals when perceived by hurdles in their work environments.

Moreover, I should be noted that this concept is synonymous to the counterculture aspect that heavily relies on more or less the same ethics employed by DIY artists. It basically entails factions operating outside the common doctrines and social norms that are typical to society consequently showing alternative ways of approaching issues to achieve certain goals. Both approaches have one thing in common: they both provide favorable grounds for progressive growth of ideas and concepts before they are inaugurated into the mainstream society. This benefit is what has triggered the artists’ move to pursue this approach in their respective lines of work. It fosters originality and authenticity in the work and materials produced.

Evidently, this new system has proven to be quite advantageous in the music scene. This is because it permits DIY artists to take charge of the process of composing, recording and publishing their own music in addition to developing a fan base and a marketing strategy. However, although it may appear simple, it requires hard work, commitment and resilience (Radbill 2013).

The Functions of Digital Tools, Platforms and Networks

To begin with, the prevalence of digital tools and networks is characterized by numerous functions that are holistically relevant in the music industry. They are inclined to enhancing self-promotion and commerce are outlined in this section in detail. Firstly, the technologies are playing the important role of revolutionizing the operations and dynamics of musicians, both amateur and professional ones. The vast network for the DIY music fraternity is increasing at a rapid rate and it is being driven primarily by these technologies. As such, these platforms and networks have changed the tactics and methods employed by musicians. For instance, inexperienced music artists have been accorded the chance to collaborate innovatively with other their established counterparts to form meaningful coalitions to produce high-end performances that target both local and international audiences. A good example of such a forum is YouTube. This social media site has served as an outlet for many artists to showcase their talents and market their music. In addition to this, several artists have gotten in touch and produced music together as a result of these interactions.

Secondly, promoting music diversity and both local and global identity serve an imperative function for these platforms. These digital media tools are primarily charged with the responsibility of marketing music and nurturing upcoming talent within DIY communities. This is done by allowing these networks to serve as channels that target a global audience to celebrate divergent localities through performances and recording techniques that are exceptional to their areas and surroundings. By doing so, the musicians are able to promote their specific brands and types of music they undertake with respect to genre. Additionally, it has triggered the growth of a culture and network of musicians especially amateurs, who yearn to create local performances and recordings driven by the desire to produce and disseminate their music to elevate it to a professional standard (Leadbeater and Miler, 2004).

Furthermore, digital technologies are making it possible for inexperienced musicians to undertake inventive initiatives and projects that are structured and operated remotely. This has enabled recording artists to indulge in myriad activities especially those that are inclined to promoting their brands without devoting so much time and effort to one specific area. Online platforms such as YouTube and Facebook allow for the expansion of possibilities for exceptional musicians to exchange information, ideas, and transfer skills in addition to sharing the vast viable resources that are at their disposal. These efforts have helped to foster the diversity in the local music scenes. Furthermore, local and international musicians are accorded the chance to expand their individual scope of creativity to come up renewed ideas and concepts that are inclined to their objectives, and which are at the same time relevant to their respective careers (Tanebaum, Williams and Desjardins, 2013).

Meanwhile, it is quite obvious that the expansive growth of these digital technologies serves to provide favorable grounds for musicians to host live performances even if funds are inadequate. This has become quite a popular role for these tools. The reason for this situation is because most of these platforms and networks have minimal procedures and processes that are less tedious and demanding. Moreover, most, if not all, of these digital media are user-friendly in terms of usage, and this has prompted them to appeal to many musicians. For instance, sites such as Instagram allows users to post short video clips and previews that are viewed by people who happen to be active users of the site. In line with these developments, many established musicians have become fond of using such sites to share their music with their massive followers. This in essence provides suitable grounds for targeting a large audience. Additionally, musicians are able to post live performances and even stream them from wherever they are  to promote their works. Such a high level of convenience and efficiency in terms of promotional activities is what makes these tools quite handy and appealing to many DIY artists.


Another essential role of digital technologies is to enhance the establishment of viable connections. Live performances that are streamed on these social sites and networks not only allow musicians to tap into larger audiences internationally but are also used as grounds where innovative DIY artists come together to perform and work in close partnership uplift each other in an attempt to grow and nurture their careers and passions. The beauty of such platforms is that they are able to harmonize all these efforts and strategies without the need for these DIY artists to commit to any record label or formal contract. It is these connections that steer the growth of careers of these DIY artists since quite a number of them seek advice from professionals and experts who have already establish their brands on a global scale.

In many cases, recorded music tends to have a higher likelihood of penetrating into diverse communities. Digital technologies facilitate this paradigm by thwarting all existing geographical hindrances and obstacles. The continuous use of the internet as a medium of propagation has ensured that the existing geographical boundaries are deemed non-existent to a great extent owing to the high level of interconnectivity and interdependence among people in the cyberspace. Consequently, many DIY artists are able to utilize these digital media to reach out to large audience all over the continent from a remote position without necessarily going to these locations physically. It also enables the musicians to exploit the global marketplace which provides a profound base for the cost-efficient dissemination of musical content. For instance, Ian MacKaye’s current band, The Evens, had scheduled a performance in South America thinking that the audience was neither familiar nor accustomed to their particular type of music (Cuffman, 2015).  However, they were pleasantly surprised to see the audience singing along to almost all the songs that they performed that evening. This outcome was made possible by the pervasive use of the internet, whereby fans were able to download their music and to listen to it at their own convenience.

Intellectual Property Ownership

A major concern is that intellectual property rights of DIY debut artists are being extensively violated and this has led to the degradation of the quality of music that is flooding the global market (Reed, 2004). The prevalent use of the internet has made it more complex and challenging to enforce intellectual property laws to safeguard against piracy, infringement of privacy and online theft of original musical content (Reed, 2004). As a matter of fact, performers have sole rights to keep others from recording or broadcasting their performances if at all they choose to deny them consent. Record labels, producers and recording artists who indulge in creative works can only resort to copyright protection to safeguard their intellectual property (Hull, Hull, Hutchison and Strasser, 2011).

Intellectual property (IP) rights are laws that relate to trademarks, commercial names and logos as well as their protection against unauthorized use. These rights are divided into two parts: industrial property rights which deal with patenting and trademarks and copyrights which are extensively used in music and other arts to accord exclusive rights to the content created and the way in which it is disseminated (Miller and Davis, 2000). A beneficial feature of copyright that is typical of the world of sound recording and musical composition is the registration of collective works. This feature works in favor of the performing artists and songwriters who do not have a recording contract or any formal commitment with a record label/company. Provided that all copyright owners of all the works produced are the same, multiple works can be submitted under one registration number as an unpublished collection. Later, the recordings can be indexed to safeguard against piracy and unauthorized performances.

In the meantime, it is prudent for the custodians of international and local legal regimes to come up with a viable strategy and approach that takes into account the importance of IP rights in the digital age. As such, IP rights should be enforced in a stringent manner to ensure that debut DIY artists benefit fully from their work. The duplication of someone else’s material is an infringement as long as the owner has not provided permission to that effect. Unfortunately, the absence of a strong legal framework means that music piracy will continue to be one of the key problems that most DIY artists will encounter in the foreseeable future. It has consequently reduced the income generated from recording such music since the global marketplace has seen an influx of pirated content making it hard for these artists to make sales.

Meanwhile, all is not lost for debut DIY music artists because many innovative digital tools exist that can safeguard their property rights. For example, in the cyberspace, there is a sense in which no listener can claim to own any piece of music that a musician has shared publicly. A good example of one of the platforms that thrive on this principle is Spotify, a website that allows for real-time streaming of music. It enables one to access and listen to songs that have been shared by artists, recording labels, albums and playlists and that have been trending for a specified duration (Hogan, 2015). Launched in 2008, this platform first allowed the public to access tracks shared on the Internet before enabling them to create free accounts one year later (Sehr, 2009). Additionally, Spotify has acquired rights and permissions to stream music from myriad recording labels. However, this platform has been heavily criticized for its unreliability and inefficiency when it comes to promoting DY artists (Lewis, 2009).

In terms of commercial aspects, there are three notable key contributors that can ensure recording artists get a steady flow of income in today’s digital age: legal rights, enhanced creativity and distinct treatment of the song produced. All these three factors are intertwined to constitute a coherent framework for steady payment streams to the respective artists. Sales accrued from recording and performance account for most of the revenue received in music. Live performances across digitals tools such a YouTube constitute an entirely separate entity that is charged with the generation of revenues for the artist aside from the music publishers and record labels. The current increase in streaming services has prompted artists to demand royalties especially where recording labels are involved since most streaming sites have been known to pay considerably low fees on streamed music (Karp, 2014).

As a digital media tool, Spotify has performed fairly well in terms of ensuring that artists benefit from their published content. There is a strong relationship between the music shared on these sites and the corresponding commercial advertisements that are tied to these songs. This is because the platform itself thrives and generates revenue through the various advertisements that appear in between songs. The platform has been criticized for putting advertisements that are quite lengthy and very frequent (Harrison, 2009). However, it can be noted that this perception by the critics can easily be dismissed as baseless because the benefits derived from having these adverts between songs cannot be overlooked.

Accordingly, an in-depth analysis of social media sites reveal more or less the same information as stated above. For instance, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have all been in the frontline in terms of generating revenues and capital for respective artists and recording labels alike. They help debut music artists to achieve and improve their brand recognition through adverts and competitions conducted online. Additionally, they have been used as primary channels for coming up with new outlets for listeners and fans to interact with each other, to view content and to leave comments in the designated sections. This exposure has helped DIY artists monitor and respond to these commentaries in an attempt to improve their music, and by extension, their careers.


             Additionally, social media has continued to generate income and revenue through advertisements in between songs played. Although many DIY artists have complained that more often than not these adverts are becoming increasingly longer and more frequent thereby hampering effective music promotion, it is an undisputed fact that this is how income and revenue can best be optimized in the long run. According to McCormick (2009), most adverts aired on Spotify last up to 15seconds and are played at a definite sequence of 30 minutes intervals. Similarly, Harrison (2009) argues that the tendency for audio advertisements to play after every song has become an inevitable phenomenon.

As corollary, digital tools and platforms have an integral role to play in promoting new musical work through launching campaigns that are relevant to a specific goal and that are customized to meet the needs of a particular upcoming artist. For instance, a digital media tool can kick-start an awareness campaign on specific social problems of their interest and prompt listeners and viewers alike to visit these sites to be a part of these campaigns. This paradigm is a win-win situation for most artists in the sense that the more traffic generated to their respective accounts on social media, the more money they get since it all boils down to how many views one gets. Through the commercial advertisements hosted in these sites and platforms, the followers, fans and subscribers are not only exposed to the music they choose to listen to but are also exposed to a diverse range of services and products that are promoted through commercials and advertisements in these sites.

The Way Forward for DIY Artists

DIY music artists continue to face stiff competition from leading recording labels which have a strong market presence, making it increasingly difficult for them to release and promote debut albums. It is evident that supremacy in the music industry heavily lies with major recording labels. However, digital media and broadcasting is creating a revolutionary way for independent artists to embrace the DIY culture. According to McLean and Wainwright (2009), technology and digitization have strongly impacted the way online communities create, communicate, and share views. The same case applies to DIY music artists. They have instantaneous access to more digital tools than ever before that they can use to launch their music careers in a professional manner that matches, if not surpasses, that of their established counterparts who are strongly reliant on traditional recording companies. However, there is much to be learned and many improvements to be made in DIY music, particularly in terms of the IP rights regime, for long-term success to be achieved.


In conclusion, it is quite evident that there are vast opportunities and prospects that have yet to be exploited in the DIY artistry. To a large extent, technology, has aided in facilitating the development of the DIY culture in addition to empowering communities to be independent and self-sufficient. This assertion strongly concurs with the ethics and principles that are applied by upcoming artists who rely primarily on the DIY approach to launch their debut albums. As evidenced in the above analysis, DIY artists have taken a bold step by establishing advantageous links and stepping out of the shadows of unexploited potential to embrace the digital age and the new opportunities it brings for music promotion, marketing, and distribution. However, DIY artists have a long way to go in terms of tapping into digital media to utilize its effectiveness and optimal efficiency in revolutionizing the music industry.

Agamben, G. (2001). The Coming Community. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Cuffman, T. (2015). Idle musical community: Dischord Records and anarchic DIY practice. Contemporary Justice Review: Issues in Criminal, Social, and Restorative Justice, 18(1), pp. 4-21

Harrison, E. (2009). Spotify Review: the iTunes killer? Retrieved May 2, 2009, from

Hogan, M. (2015). The upstream effects of the streaming revolution: A look into the law and economics of a Spotify-dominated music industry. Colorado Technology Law Journal, 14(1), pp. 131-152.

Hull, G., Hull, G., Hutchison, T. and Strasser, R. (2011). The Music Business and Recording Industry.Deliverng Music in the 21st Century. London: Routledge.

Karp, H. (2014). Artists Press for Their Share. The Wall Street Journal.

Leadbeater, C. & Miller, K. (2004). The Pro-Am Revolution: How enthusiasts are changing our economy and society. London: Demos.

Levine, F. and Heimerl, C. (2008). Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft and Design. Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press.

Lewis, L. (2009). The problem with Spotify. Retrieved January 16, 2009, from =the _problem _with_spotify

McCormick, N. (2009). Make way for Spotify: A big digital jukebox in the ether. Retrieved January 15, 2009, from The Daily Telegraph:

McLean, R. and Wainwright, D. (2009). Social networks, football fans, fantasy and reality: How corporate and Media Interests are invading our Lifeworld. Journal of Information, Culture and Ethics, 7(1), pp. 54-71.

Miller, A. and Davis, R. (2000). Intellectual Property: Patents, Trademarks, and Copyright. New York: Wadsworth.

Radbill, F. (2013). Introduction to the Music Industry: An Entrepreneurial Approach. London: Routledge.

Reed, C. (2004). Internet Law: Text and Material. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sehr, A. (2009). Spotify now available to everyone in the UK. Retrieved January 15, 2010, from

Tanenbaum, J., Williams, A., and Desjardins, A. (2013). Democratizing Technology: Pleasure, Utility and Expressiveness in DIY and Market Practice. New York: ACM.

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