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The Future of Music – by Dave Kusek and Gerd Leonhard

The Future of Music book is available in various forms.

future of music

 

You can buy the book on Amazon.

 

You can purchase the audiobook from Audible.

 

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.

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.

Other things to do from here:

We have a wide variety of blog posts and articles on the music business and the future of music. Please click on any of these links to read more.

How to Promote Your Music

How to License Your Music

How to get your Music on Spotify Playlists

How to book bigger and better Gigs.

Instagram for Musicians

Music_Evolution_lowres1

Music is a much smaller and less significant part of many people’s lives than 10-20 years ago.  There is more competition for our attention and the value of music has declined precipitously. This graphic shows the rise of digital against physical music, and the overall impact of piracy, widespread distribution and digital media on the music industry. The sad story is that overall the music business is shrinking. That is a fact that we all have to face.  The silver lining in all of this may be on the horizon, but it cannot come soon enough for me. We have to do something to reverse the trend.

Courtesy Daily Infographic.

Sometimes it takes a while for ideas to spread and become perceived as good ones. The “Music Like Water” metaphor where for a low monthly fee, people would have access to all the music they want in a kind-of music utility is one such idea.

In a variety of recent announcements, the once mighty major labels have begun to accept the idea that maybe, the old way of squeezing cash out of consumers for music – might need to be replaced with another model.

Emusic has been pioneering a hybrid subscription/download models for many years and is currently the #2 supplier of “paid for” digital music behind iTunes. Now both Sony/BMG and Warner Music are speaking publicly about subscription and utility models that they intend to explore.

Warner has gone so far as to hire Jim Griffin to head up development of a new business to bundle a monthly fee into consumers’ Internet service bills for unlimited access to music. Whoa!

The plan—the boldest move yet to keep the wounded music industry giants afloat—is simple: Consumers will pay a monthly fee, bundled into an internet service bill in exchange for unfettered access to a database of all known music.

Bronfman’s decision to hire Griffin, a respected industry critic, demonstrates the desperation of the recording industry. It has shrunk to a $10 billion business from $15 billion in almost a decade. Compact disc sales are plummeting as online music downloads skyrocket.

“Today, it has become purely voluntary to pay for music,” Griffin told Portfolio.com in an exclusive sitdown this week. “If I tell you to go listen to this band, you could pay, or you might not. It’s pretty much up to you. So the music business has become a big tip jar.”

Nothing provokes sheer terror in the recording industry more than the rise of peer-to-peer file sharing networks. For years, digital music seers have argued the rise of such networks has made copyright law obsolete and free music distribution universal. 🙂

Bronfman has asked Griffin, formerly Geffen Music’s digital chief, to develop a model that would create a pool of money from user fees to be distributed to artists and copyright holders. Warner has given Griffin a three-year contract to form a new organization to spearhead the plan.

Griffin says he hopes to move beyond the years of acrimonious record industry litigation against illegal file-swappers, college students in particular.

“We’re still clinging to the vine of music as a product,” Griffin says, calling the industry’s plight “Tarzan” economics.

“But we’re swinging toward the vine of music as a service. We need to get ready to let go and grab the next vine, which is a pool of money and a fair way to split it up, rather than controlling the quantity and destiny of sound recordings.”

Read more from Portfolio here.

The last few weeks have heralded some great news for the music industry. Radiohead’s experiment with user-based pricing, Madonna’s new deal and the formation of ArtistNation, a “360” model for music where the artist and the company partner on numerous levels including recordings, touring, merchandise, etc., and Apple’s repricing of DRM free tracks to $.99. These are all very positive moves that continue to point toward a healthy future of music.

Madonna left Warner Music for a newly formed ArtistNation designed to optimize the revenue potential and investment strategy by combining multiple revenue streams into a package deal. “Madonna is the first step to making Live Nation into the next-generation music company,” Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said during an investor conference call. “We believe it should help attract additional artists.” Let’s hope so for them.

Read more about this deal here.

The Irish Independent published a great commentary on the state of the music industry this past week. “Madonna – the most successful female artist of all time – is the latest high-profile artist to turn her back on the music majors, ending a 25-year relationship with Warner Music in favour of a lucrative deal with Live Nation. The deal follows the recent excitement around Radiohead’s decision to ditch EMI and offer their new album for download with the consumer choosing what to pay – a move set to be echoed by The Charlatans.

Earlier this year, Prince gave away his new album to readers of The Mail on Sunday. Meanwhile, a slew of yesteryear’s superstars, including Paul McCartney and Joni Mitchell, have signed record deals with Hear Music, which is owned by the coffee chain Starbucks.

It appears that artists of all calibres are forsaking the traditional route to fame and fortune – making a hit record with a household-name label – in favour of giving music away and making money off the back of touring and T-shirts. Arguably it reflects the way that consumer attitudes have changed toward music over the past decade, with today’s consumers happy to pay vast sums to see a band but unwilling to pay for songs they can download for free. Many of today’s music fans – and artists – hold a very dim view of the music majors, arguing that they have charged too much for CDs for too long and that the dinosaurs of the industry – namely Universal Music, EMI, Warner Music and Sony BMG – were too slow to harness the power of the internet and the way the industry has changed.”

This potentially is great news for established artists seeking to renegotiate their contracts or establish new deals with more forward thinking companies willing to write the big check. However, it has yet to be seen how this model will benefit emerging artists looking for marketing muscle to help them break through the noise level. Can a LiveNation afford to break acts now in order to develop the revenue streams it will need in the future? If not them, then who?

With the widespread sharing of files online moving into the end of its first decade, and the rapid disintegration of the old-school record business clearly in sight, what exactly will the future hold? Will these new models make it easier to find new music? Will the new 360 companies garner the trust of the consumer and make it possible to grow the music business again? Will it be more convenient for the music lover to get all their Madonna stuff from one source, or will the widespread choices available online keep pulling control away from the center and distributing it out to the edges of the equation, namely in the hands of the consumer. Interesting times to be sure.

Good reporting from the NYT, as usual. 

Some of my favorite morsels are below, plus my comments.

Link: Music Labels – EMI – New York Times.

NYT:
"Despite costly efforts to build buzz around new talent and thwart
piracy, CD sales have plunged more than 20 percent this year, far
outweighing any gains made by digital sales at iTunes and similar
services. Aram Sinnreich, a media industry consultant at Radar Research
in Los Angeles, said the CD format, introduced in the United States 24
years ago, is in its death throes. “Everyone in the industry thinks of
this Christmas as the last big holiday season for CD sales,” Mr.
Sinnreich said, “and then everything goes kaput…”

Gerd says: guess there IS hope: once the pain is big enough, changing
seems like a real option, all of a sudden – that is what we are seeing
now. Maybe this ship really has to be steered into the cliffs first,
after all?  Call me an optimist but I used to think there were
other options ;). My 2 cents: if you have the guts CHANGE NOW, you can
still own a good chunk of the market, and prosper.  But: band-aids are
over – it’s time for real, hard-core changes. Drop copy-protection (at
least for now – until something can be used that is of super-value to
the USER!), tell the users, fans & artists that you screwed up, go
for flexible pricing and bundles, package music into other media, offer
agency-type deals to artists, become completely transparent and drop
the ‘secret sauce’ antics, and start using syndication as the prime
vehicle of promotion, marketing and distribution. It’s not the COPY – it’s the ACCESS. It’s not Prevention – it’s Participation.

NYT: "For the companies that choose to plow ahead, the question is how to
weather the worsening storm. One answer: diversify into businesses that
do not rely directly on CD sales or downloads. The biggest one is music
publishing, which represents songwriters (who may or may not also be
performers) and earns money when their songs are used in TV
commercials, video games or other media…"

Gerd says: ok, now, I have talked about this until the cows came
home, but here is again: switch to music as a service. Again: never
mind the copies – the next big thing is offering ACCESS. Brands.
Experiences. Added Values. Stuff that only you can provide – together
with the artists. Values and experiences can’t just be downloaded.

Picture_3_2
NYT: "But very few albums have gained traction. And that is compounded by the
industry’s core structural problem: Its main product is widely
available free. More than half of all music acquired by fans last year
came from unpaid sources including Internet file sharing and CD
burning, according to the market research company NPD Group. The
“social” ripping and burning of CDs among friends — which takes place
offline and almost entirely out of reach of industry policing efforts —
accounted for 37 percent of all music consumption, more than
file-sharing, NPD said…."

Gerd says: sounds like an obvious problem – it’s all out there for
free so they stopped buying. But the thing is that this is not the real
problem. ‘Free distribution’ is a blessing not a curse, and P2P /
Super-Dustribution will emerge as the main mechanism for digital
distribution in the next 3 years (and not just for music). Rather, it
is – still seriously counter-assumptive, and beyond grasp of
most of the incumbents of ‘music1.0’ – the unfailing desire to, at any
cost (including self-destruction), want to control the ecosystem that
the large music companies must keep in check – and then we can understand and monetize what people actually do
with technology. They are doing this because they like the music and
the artists, not because they want to  do as much damage as they can –
YOU simply have not given them good enough options to act differently.

If the model of uber-control over music distribution isn’t working
any longer, wouldn’t it make sense to try to come up with a new model?
Lesser control does not mean zero revenues. There is life after selling
expensive copies of plastic, or indeed of 0s and 1s. Trust me.