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 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 illegal price fixing by the record industry.
The Recording Artists' Coalition exists to represent the interests of members of the music industry, 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 file sharing technologies.
See also: Record label
Record industry organizations: