In this TEDxSMU talk recorded on Dec. 1st, 2011, José Bowen, the Dean of the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU, talks about how the current disruption in the entertainment business is not entirely unprecedented.
The ongoing adaptation of artists to digital technology - for example, in what artists are selling and how they deliver that work - may seem revolutionary. But just as artists are adapting to a new world right now - where physical copies of music and films are no longer a reliable source of revenue, as fans have embraced new technologies that provide digital access to content from the cloud - there are similar examples of prior disruptions that we can study and learn from.
For example, Beethoven wrote software (sheet music) - that pushed innovations in the hardware. Prior to 1803, pianos could not play the upper octaves. Beethoven's piano concerti required new devices (pianos with more than 5 octaves). Similarly, programmers are writing applications today that are making your old hardware obsolete.
Also notice that the social experience of music - that no longer requires interactions in brick and mortar record stores - has been evolving for centuries. As Prof. Bowen observes, not so very long ago, if you wanted to listen to music by Bach you needed the real Bach. But sheet music changed that. Just as videotape, DVDs and now the internet have changed the social experience of watching a film.