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Spin Magazine Book Club Pick – The Future of Music

From SPIN.COM

MC Lars, a self-proclaimed “post-punk laptop rapper,” may be best-known for his fast-talking rhymes about Hot Topic stores and hipster girls, but the Bay Area musician is notably literary, and therefore a fitting participant in our ongoing series of musicians talking about their favorite books. Not only has MC Lars penned songs about Moby Dick, Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven,” and Hamlet, he’s also published a book of his own poetry called Bukowski In Love.

For his SPIN.com Book Club pick, Lars veers away from iconic works of literature, instead choosing a practical tome for anyone making music these days: The Future of Music: Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution, authored by two veterans of pop music who outline the music industry’s digital future.

SPIN: Why did you pick this book?
MC Lars: I studied English literature in college, but in a few years I want to do a PhD in media studies, so I’m always reading books about music technology and the digital music revolution and the evolution of content and new media economics. I read this book because one of the authors, Dave Kusek, is a professor at Berklee College of Music and he’s a really smart guy [who actually was one of the co-developers of MIDI technology, a revolutionary development in electronic music]. It’s really influenced my philosophies on technology and media and it’s also really influenced my business model as a guy with a label.

How many times have you read it?
Three times. It’s a good one.

Do you reread the whole thing or do you just have sections you go back to?

What happened was I read it casually and then I read closely and then I read it again because I wrote a song that was inspired by it. I took some of his philosophies and made it into lyrics. It’s called “Download This Song.” The author heard my song, and on the website for the book they did a little piece about how the song reinforced those philosophies. It was really cool to have this author I really love like the song I wrote about his book.

Read the Spin Article here.

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Appetite for Self-Destruction

Most of this is old news, but you got to love this line:

“You can’t roll a joint on an iPod,” the singer-songwriter Shelby Lynne told The New York Times Magazine early last year. And, O.K., I suppose that’s among the iPod’s drawbacks. But it’s hard to think of an electronic device released in recent decades that’s brought more pleasure to more people.

Should anyone care that in the process, the iPod has all but killed the music industry as we’ve known it? Maybe not, Steve Knopper writes in “Appetite for Self-Destruction – The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age,” his stark accounting of the mistakes major record labels have made since the end of the LP era and the arrival of digital music. These dinosaurs, he suggests, are largely responsible for their own demise.

Mr. Knopper, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, provides a wide-angled, morally complicated view of the current state of the music business. He doesn’t let those rippers and burners among us — that is, those who download digital songs without paying for them, and you know who you are — entirely off the hook. But he suggests that with even a little foresight, record companies could have adapted to the Internet’s brutish and quizzical new realities and thrived.

“The CD boom lasted from 1984 to 2000,” Mr. Knopper writes. Then the residue of old mistakes and a wave of new realities began hammering the music industry from all sides.

One of the first things the labels got wrong, Mr. Knopper says, was the elimination of the single. It got young people out of the habit of regularly visiting record stores and forced them to buy an entire CD to get the one song they craved. In the short term this was good business practice. In the long term it built up animosity. It was suicidal.

When Napster and other music-sharing Web sites showed up, the single came back with a vengeance. Before long MP3 — the commonly used term for digitally compressed and easily traded audio files — had replaced sex as the most searched-for term on sites like Yahoo! and AltaVista.

The record industry bungled the coming of Napster. Instead of striking a deal with a service that had more than 26 million users, labels sued, forcing it to close. A result, Mr. Knopper writes, was that users simply splintered, fleeing to many other file-sharing sites. “That was the last chance,” he declares, “for the record industry as we know it to stave off certain ruin.”

Read more of this book review from the New York Times.

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The Future of Music Book and Podcast

Our book is available in various forms.

The Future of Music Book

You can listen to the book on iTunes as a podcast for free. Go to the iTunes store and search “Future of Music” podcasts and subscribe.

You can buy the book on Amazon for $11.53 or less.

You can purchase the audiobook from Audible for $7.49.

Here are a few of the reviews.

Publishers Weekly
Two innovators in music technology take a fascinating look at the impact of the digital revolution on the music business and predict “a future in which music will be like water: ubiquitous and free-flowing.” Kusek and Leonhard foresee the disappearance of CDs and record stores as we know them in the next decade; consumers will have access to more products than ever, though, through a vast range of digital radio channels, person-to-person Internet file sharing and a host of subscription services. The authors are especially good at describing how the way current record companies operate – as both owners and distributors of music, with artists making less than executives – will also drastically change: individual CD sales, for example, will be replaced by “a very potent ‘liquid’ pricing system that incorporates subscriptions, bundles of various media types, multi-access deals, and added-value services.” While the authors often shift from analysts into cheerleaders for the über-wired future they predict – “Let’s replace inefficient content-protection schemes with effective means of sharing-control and superdistribution!” – their clearly written and groundbreaking book is the first major statement of what may be “the new digital reality” of the music business in the future.

5.0 out of 5 stars THE FUTURE OF MUSIC IS NOW
Gian Fiero (Hollywood, California)

This book is so brilliant that it makes the vast majority of music industry books that are being published seem irrelevant. It discusses in detail, the reasons why the future of the music industry is headed into the digital/mobile entertainment era. It also provides statistical information that professionals, marketers, entrepreneurs, and educators can use constructively. Both Dave and Gerd (the books co-author), have their fingers firmly planted on current music industry activities and trends. They also possess and display a clairvoyant eye toward the future that offers beneficial insight and foresight to those who may not be aware of what this whole digital (i.e. independent) revolution is about, and most importantly, what it will entail to prosper in it. The book is easy to read, easy to understand and simply brilliant. If you buy just one industry book this year, this should be THE one. Buy it now!

5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensible
Stephen Hill “Producer, Hearts of Space” (San Rafael, CA USA)

A stunningly candid source of concentrated, up to date insight about the music business and its turbulent transition into the digital era. This book tells it straight and will make the dinosaurs of the music industry very unhappy.

Like Martin Luther’s ’95 Theses’ nailed to the door of Wittenberg Cathedral, Kusek and Leonard drive nail after nail into the sclerotic heart of the old-fashioned music business. Their rational vision of the future of music rests on the idea of unshackling music from the hardcopy product business in a yet-to-be-realized era of open content licensing, facilitating sharing and communication among users, and growing the business to its full potential.

It provides as clear a vision of the future of the music industry as you will find, from two writers with a rare combination: a solid grounding in the traditional practices of the music business, an up-to-the-minute knowledge of the new technologies that are changing it, and the ability to think through the consequences.

I’ve dreamed about a book like this, but thought it would be impossible in today’s hyperdynamic environment where every week seems to bring a breakthrough technology, device, or service. But by digging out the underlying trends and principles Kusek and Leonard get under the news and illuminate it. Along the way they provide a brilliantly concise history of the evolution of digital media.

I can’t think of any book more important for artists to get the full re-orientation they need to survive and prosper in the digital era. It’s no less critical for members of the music and broadcasting industries who need to consolidate their thinking into a coherent roadmap for the future. In a word: indispensible.

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Quotes from Industry About the Future of Music Book

“David Kusek has an amazing grasp of where today’s music business resides, where its been and where its going. He has a unique ability with factual analysis to cut through the hype and buzz and  give us all a clear picture of what is actually taking place in today’s environment.”
– Terry McBride, CEO Nettwerk Productions

"The billions of songs downloaded from the Web monthly has shown
that the digital music revolution is well underway. The Future of Music
shows us where this is all headed and how music fans and artists are
going to benefit from the new paradigms and new business models that
are emerging."

-Ted Cohen, Senior Vice President, Digital Development & Distribution, EMI Music

"Some may find this book controversial while others will consider it
prophesy. Kusek and Leonhard have managed to tap into the problems-and
possibly the solutions-of an industry at the crossroads. For those of
us who left the record business to go into the music business, video
games are the new rock ‘n’ roll. But no matter where this revolution
begins or ends, the industry must learn to respect and react to its
consumers. This book contains valuable insights for us all."

-Steve Schnur, Worldwide Executive of Music, Electronic Arts

I know of no other text that as beautifully and concisely presents
the fundamental challenge that music now faces. This book is essential
for anyone who wants to understand what is at stake in this debate."

-Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law, Stanford University and founder of Creative Commons.

"Amid all the shouting and confusion, along comes The Future of
Music, which in a calm and clear voice explains the essential issues
roiling the music business today. Most importantly, this is written
directly for musicians and their fans, rather than business people in
the music industry. If you want to know what you’re getting into as you
develop your music career, and where music will be coming from in the
future, you have to read this book."

-Gary Burton, Grammy-winning vibraphonist

"The Future of Music clearly and succinctly explains what will
happen to the way we consume music. Anyone who is planning to listen to
music from shiny pieces of plastic in the future will be in for a big
shock."

-Dave Goldberg, SVP and GM, Music, Yahoo!

"The Future of Music offers an enticing and provocative vision for
the future of an industry in dire need of reinvention. For newcomers
and industry veterans alike, Kusek and Leonhard paint a picture of
tomorrow’s music business that is at once dynamic, challenging, ever
changing, and unlimited in its potential. What else would we wish the
future to be?"

-Eric Beall, VP, Sony/ATV Music

"Kusek and Leonhard lay out critical visions of the past, present,
and future. A must-read for music and media culture futurists."

-Mike Dreese, CEO, Newbury Comics

"As a veteran of the wars between the mighty music publishing
conglomerates and those rare individuals who still cherish intellectual
property rights, I read The Future of Music with great interest. Kusek
and Leonhard have done an engaging job of presenting some imaginative
yet realistic alternatives for an ever-changing industry. Deep down I
hope they are wrong, but I doubt it."

-Steve Karmen, composer of "I Love New York," author of Who Killed the Jingle?

"In The Future of Music, Kusek and Leonhard take their place among
the visionaries of this fascinating industry. In this thought-provoking
and informative book, they take the reader on a journey to the rich
future that music and technology may bring us if we heed their warnings
about wise choices that must be made today."

-Joel Fisch, Senior Investment Manager, Intel Capital

"The Future of Music is now and the authors have clearly seen it.
This comprehensive and controversial commentary is a must-read for
every serious music industry professional."

-Chris Stone: Founder, Record Plant Recording Studios; Associate Professor, Music Industry & Recording Arts, USC

"A must-read for musicians planning to survive the next five years."

-Mark Featherstone-Witty, CEO, The Liverpool Institute for Performing Art
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Read more quotes posted on Amazon

Recent Reviews of The Future of Music book

“Having been in the industry for over 30 years, I recognize this book as visionary and for a young or even experienced performer, like myself, an excellent look into the future of the music business as well as the technological possibilities head.  I had predicted the crumble of the castle created by the industry majors and their control of the radio airwaves a little over 5 years ago just on common sense principles with the innovation of web access. The author here has put those common sense principles with substantive information on the evolution of web technology and communication. This book,coupled with the equipment and software available to produce in personal studio facilities gives the 21st Century musician and performer an opportunity to not only produce himself but market himself in way unimaginable in the past.  This is an ABSOLUTE…. MUST HAVE…..in the library of anyone who intends to participate in the Music Business. I won’t be enough just to read it, this is a small text book that future information as the industry continues to evolve, will be the basis of and will continue to serve as a reference source towards the fundamental understanding of the techno/business aspects necessary to understand.” – Earl Nesmith, Musart Enterprises

"Perhaps the most compelling music-biz think piece to emerge this year.  The authors challenge traditional assumptions about how to “make it” in the music business, providing much valuable legal and technical information along the way.  A must read for those who are banking on music for their own future." – David Roman, Future Music Magazine

"A solid look at how the music industry is healthy even if the music business is not. One of the best takes today on what a "pool of music" could mean to the artists, record labels and consumers." – The Register (UK)

"I think your book is the best music business book I have ever read!  I have recommended it at our recent meetings." – Franklin Spicer, Los Angeles Songwriter Co-op

Here is what some of the people who bought the book have said:

"The Future of Music is a prophetic book that nails right down where it’s at. It’s a must to read for everyone in Internet, media and music industries." – John Mark

"I just started reading you book and I can’t put it down!" – Sue Frenz

"I just finished the Future of Music. Incredible read. I’m abuzz with inspiration and hope." – Chris Farrell

"I have just purchased the Future of Music.  Quite an extraordinarly book, to say the least." – Bob Beland

"Great book.  I have bought over a dozen copies for colleagues." – Richard Rees

"We loved your book and our entire team has been given the assignment to read it.  A resounding THANK YOU for raising the consciousness of our customers and audience.  We will be recommending your book to everyone we know." – Amity Carriere, hotlocalmusic.com

"This book articulates a new thinking that must be embraced by the next generation of music professionals, especially unsigned, independent artists who wish to develop and capitalize on today’s available resources and tomorrow’s opportunities." – Lior Shamir, We Are Listening

"Thank you for giving everyone a reason to believe in the wonderous vision of the future of music." – Joe Lefebvre

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Atlas Plugged Interview Part 2

Held back by fear, you are.

The music industry can’t preserve its current model of total control. Rather, it must embrace P2P and other new technologies because consumers won’t accept anything less than full freedom. In the future,preventing customers from doing things they have grown used to will equal a quickly executed death blow. For the music business, this means that any innovation that will be offered to the marketplace must be without any catches. It must be flat-out in synch with what the consumer will accept and wants, and its integration into the daily lives of the average music consumer must be unobtrusive and effortless.  In other words, keep it simple and give customers what they want.

As Yoda might say, “Held back by fear, you are. To the Dark Side, your stubbornness will lead.” It’s a
fate the music industry may want to avoid.

Read the second part of the interview here.

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Atlas Plugged – Interview

"Like modern  plumbing, the music industry could operate almost as a  utility—with copyright holders able to meter usage down to  how many people listened to particular songs at particular  times. In such a world, the industry could live off of micropayments flowing seamlessly back to the owners of  content rather than rely solely on the disjointed and  inefficient distribution of CDs to retailers. Artists, meanwhile, would have unprecedented access to new listeners  as their songs spread virally into vast musical networks  that fans can access literally anywhere. As the most  accessible artists find their audiences, those artists would  enjoy increased concert attendance, new forms of merchandise  and countless other opportunities to connect with fans like  never before."

Read part one of the two part interview

Part two is here

Publishers Weekly Review

Pwcover2* THE FUTURE OF MUSIC
David Kusek and Gerd Leonhard. Berklee, $16.95 paper (216p) ISBN 0-87639-059-9

In what could be one of the most provocative music books published this year, two innovators in music technology take a fascinating look at the impact of the digital revolution on the music business and predict "a future in which music will be like water: ubiquitous and free-flowing." Kusek and Leonhard foresee the disappearance of CDs and record stores as we know them in the next decade; consumers will have access to more products than ever, though, through a vast range of digital radio channels, person-to-person Internet file sharing and a host of subscription services.

The authors are especially good at describing how the way current record companies operate–as both owners and distributors of music, with artists making less than executives–will also drastically change: individual CD sales, for example, will be replaced by "a very potent ‘liquid’ pricing system that incorporates subscriptions, bundles of various media types, multi-access deals, and added-value services." While the authors often shift from analysts into cheerleaders for the über-wired future they predict–"Let’s replace inefficient content-protection schemes with effective means of sharing-control and superdistribution!"–their clearly written and groundbreaking book is the first major statement of what may be "the new digital reality" of the music business in the future. (Feb.)