And The Band Plays On.
Certainly makes an apt title for the current and future states of the music business, because despite all the doom and gloom surrounding the recording industry and / or the credit crunch, and other similar tales of woe, it hasn’t all ground to a screeching halt, yet. So does this mean there is room for some optimism after all?
The following nuggets, and micro trend indicators, highlight just a few things that might lend further credence to this viewpoint:
- Artistes are still producing stuff, lots of stuff, and they are using every conceivable media outlet available to expose their works. This is somewhat contrary to the widely propagated perception that piracy is killing the creative artiste. It is also often held that a “true” artiste is arguably one that creates things “because they must” and not necessarily because they are paid for it. Hah!
- Music is far much easier to produce, remix and collaborate, thanks to digital technology. This supports the above point (i.e. by better enabling the creative process) and, perhaps sadly, the perception by some that music is of less value as a consequence.
- The real music business of licensing and publishing is still doing great, and will continue to do so for some time to come; especially with the regular entry of other / new and innovative players into the game. There is still money to be made here, without a doubt.
- The games and music combo is big, and will get even bigger. This is obvious given the explosive growth of music based games like Guitar Hero, Rock Band and other derivatives of the genre
- Virtual worlds are going to be huge for the music industry – faint glimmers of this potential exist with the likes of Habbo virtual music festival, and other in-world, band-to-fan direct interactivity facilitators.
- Oh, and don’t forget mobile music. The returns from mobile music can only increase along with the various; always connected, fully mobile, all-you-can-eat models, services and supported devices that could very well spell the end of iPod’s dominance.
- Music usage and tracking technologies will play a major role in accounting, reconciliation and royalty distribution, among other things, and they could be used to lead the way towards a more robust method for implementing legal music-as-a-service propositions
- Evolving online music distribution and pricing models – Nothing is off limits, not even Apple, because Artistes can now use iPhone Apps (wrapped around a track or album) to get around the 99 cent per track limitation on iTunes (i.e. just when you think you have it cracked, someone always finds a way to do it differently).
The current and future horizon of the music industry is replete with these and other, perhaps even more innovative, developments. Therefore I’ll boldly say that the future for music is indeed bright, (not necessarily Orange), but bright nonetheless. The main reason behind all this, in my opinion, is that music and technology have always been very closely intertwined; ever since the first acoustic instruments (e.g. sticks and stones) provided rhythmic accompaniment to the song and dance of our early cave ancestors, (perhaps in celebration of a successful hunt, with said sticks and stones), to the very latest ultra-techno-whizzo, uber-kool, online / in-world jam session simultaneously happening in both real and virtual worlds. Finally, technology innovation in music always brings great opportunities right alongside the more immediate and disruptive consequences, therefore a time invariably comes when the former exceeds the latter, and it appears that time is at hand for this particular episode.
Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.