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.)