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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

Doug Morris on the state of the music industry. The problem, he says, is that “there’s sympathy for the consumer, and the record industry is the Shmoo.”

Oh my God.

Wired writer Seth Mnookin interviews and skewers Universal Music Group Chief Executive Doug Morris in the latest issue, which speaks for itself. You just got to read this interview.

“There’s no one in the record company that’s a technologist,” Morris explains. “That’s a misconception writers make all the time, that the record industry missed this. They didn’t. They just didn’t know what to do. It’s like if you were suddenly asked to operate on your dog to remove his kidney. What would you do?”

Well, for one, maybe – instead of suing the technologists from Napster 1.0 – perhaps you should have considered hiring them. Just a thought…

Unbelievable. No wonder we are in the situation we are in.

Total Music. Hmm… Why do they think they have it figured out now?

For another great history lesson on how the major music labels ignored change and tried to impose their will on the masses, read this. Disturbing and painful. Great work Seth.

My co-author Gerd Leonhard has just published a new work entitled “The End of Control”. Here is an excerpt from the introduction. Enjoy.

“This book is about the most important issue the media business is facing as it tries to move forward: control.

In my work as speaker and advisor, the tough issue of control emerges, again and again, as the key contention point within TV companies, publishers, record labels, and broadcasters: How can a commercial venture that is based on so-called “intellectual property” thrive and prosper in an environment that seems to continuously and progressively remove control from the creators/owners/providers of content, and hands it over to the people formerly known as consumers (aka the users), effectively making them more powerful every single day?

But the reality is that every click inadvertently makes another case for the consumer’s ever-increasing rise in importance. Within all the conversations I have had about things like commercial content versus shared content, about the read-only or the read-write web, and about copyright versus Fair Use, the crucial question always seems to boil down to WHERE IS THE CONTROL HERE, i.e., questions such as “Who will control this new media universe” and “How much control do I need to run a revenue-generating business?”

Network_to_networked

Ever more devices, ever faster broadband, more channels, more platforms, faster processors, endless storage, better search — and still, we have only 24 hours in a day. The real barrier is attention! For many content creators or providers, it may often seem that one’s power to monetize stands to be inadvertently diminished every time some geek in some garage publishes a new piece of code. Today, those digital natives (i.e., the 10–25 year olds who were born as the Net Generation) increasingly self-assemble or pull media, controlling and sharing their own collections — and thereby making the companies that usually purvey their mass-media less crucial in the process.

Seven years after the explosion of the dot-com bubble, the future of media once again seems to be up for grabs. Bloggers and Web 2.0 entrepreneurs; social media and UGC (user-generated content) startups; mobile filesharers and P2P software developers; teenage inventors; hungry telecoms; operators and cellcos; mobile phone makers; worried governments and industry organizations; exasperated venture capitalists and their latest and greatest offspring, search engines and online communities — they all want a nice, juicy piece of the anticipated $ 1.6 trillion entertainment economy of 2010. And they all are hell-bent to take control away from the people who used to have it: the studios, and the titans of content.

This book will offer a counter-intuitive theory of we will get there: Give Up on Control.

Old-media veterans, be they music moguls or newspaper, radio, or TV executives — those who have cherished and at all cost maintained their absolute control over the marketplace — are now howling with disgust as those People Formerly Known as Consumers are becoming their de-facto bosses. They have suddenly lost their Monopoly on Attention. Yes, it’s happening everywhere, in all industries, but it is in media where we are most awestruck by its implications: We will now have to work much harder at getting people’s attention, and to gain and keep trust, rather than just use distribution monopolies to send more stuff they should watch down the pipeline.

What’s more, convergence is no longer just an idea, or a PowerPoint tagline. It’s naked reality for every media company, discussed in every boardroom. And many convergent products are relying on a substantial loss of control by all involved parties. Can we offer converged media services without giving up control? Highly unlikely.

The bottom line is that in the future, we will need to learn how to live and prosper with relative control.

Let’s face it: in a world where digital content is ubiquitously created and made readily available to everyone, everywhere, anytime, we simply will not generate enough revenues by attempting to control the copies (or the access to those copies). Throttling distribution and monetizing scarcity — an operating mode that most media conglomerates have enjoyed since the invention of the printing press, the phonograph, the TV, and the CD — is no longer a viable option. Rather, access to media content will simply be a universal, default, built-in status — and therefore, media will first be a service and only then a product.

Value will be generated by being and remaining the trusted context (formerly known as being ‘the networks’ but now becoming known as ‘being networked’); by becoming the unique purveyor of a particular media experience; and by providing added values, again and again, every time the user shows up — real-life, virtually, or both.

Here and now, the people formerly known as consumers are becoming fully empowered Netizens, and it is the Net Generation that will quickly become the default audience for our content, rather than an aberration. The Digital Natives are taking over everywhere, and they will not play if they, in the aggregate, don’t feel like they control the game, or if they get even the slightest whiff that the game may be rigged.

Social networks are quickly becoming the new radio and stand to have more influence over music trends (and commerce) than MTV ever had; (digital) radio is fast turning into a music retailer and distributor; and smart, software-based taste-making agents are set to become a standard in digital music. Mobile phones are becoming powerful media players, and remix devices, and super-distribution nodes — by default. Ubiquitous Wi-Fi and Wimax will soon mean that online and offline cease to be meaningful terms of distinction.

All of this can be summarized in one conclusion: It is now becoming utterly impossible to control the people formerly known as consumers. Instead, they control the media purveyors — by virtue of millions of mouse-clicks and the power of their combined click-streams.”

End of Control

Great to see a band of this stature make a bold move like this.  Radiohead has released their latest album "In Rainbows" online and for free, if you want it.  They will also accept whatever amount you wish to pay for the songs.  Brilliant!

Bertis Downs, manager of R.E.M., says "This is the sort of model that people have been talking about doing,
but this is the first time an act of this stature has stepped up and
done it. . . . They were a band that could go off the grid, and they
did it."

Just watch what happens when they launch their tour!  Tickets, t-shirts, hats, box sets, other goods – watch the cash register ring.  KA-CHING

LA Times reported the story on Sunday.

CDs are now sliding precipitously, especially in the United States, and that has intensified media diversification efforts at major retailers.  At the halfway point, year-over-year disc sales in the United States dropped 15.1 percent, according to Nielsen Soundscan.  That gap has since broadened to 18.4 percent.

For retailers like Trans World, Hastings, and Virgin Megastores, diversification has now become an accelerated survival tactic.  During the recent quarter, music-specific sales at Trans World dropped 19 percent on a comparable store basis.  That is more severe than dips of 16 percent recorded during the same quarter last year, and represents a worsening trend.  "Trans World has 950 stores and we would expect them to continue to deemphasize music over the next 12-24 months," said Richard Greenfield of Pali Research during a recent investor note.  Greenfield noted that Trans World has already lowered its music-specific selection to 43 percent of total inventory, down from 47 percent last year.

The decreased selection means less consumer matches, and lowered sales volumes.  "As floor space continues to contract at physical retail, we are increasingly concerned that the rate of decline in CD sales will materially accelerate in 2008," Greenfield asserted.

From Digital Music News

Watch a fascinating social commentary on the state of affairs in copyright and the internet.

See the whole hour long movie here.

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.