Thursday, January 29, 2009

Future of Music is On Demand

FMC Education Director Kristin Thomson recently put together a short presentation about how being a music junkie in the digital age doesn't necessarily mean owning stacks and stacks of CDs or having gazillions of MP3s cluttering up your hard drive. Not that there's anything wrong with that — but the point is that these days, you've got options.

Kristin's been obsessed with music since, well, forever, and she's got a massive LP collection to show for it. Which is totally cool, but not always convenient. In the clip below, Kristin explains how the future of music might be more about "access" than collecting physical product (or even audio files):

Look for more micro-presentations on all kinds of interesting subjects in the near future!


Anonymous said...

A few points. While much of what you've laid is true, there are problems for musicians here. If you are an independent musician, performance rights fees paid are never going to amount to much of anything. Unless you are being heavily promoted the 2-4 cents per play will never equal the 9.99 you can get for the sale of your album on Itunes. This type of format will, in time, create a giant global FM radio, where the only people that make money are artists like Britney Spears.

Rhapsody does not pay out a fair share to artists compared to what they make from consumers. I run an independent label and my invoices say so.

Rhapsody heavily promotes records from major labels on their homepage. They are a lot less supportive of independent artists, like Emusic (whihc is all indie) and even Itunes.

As a consumer, if you are using "playlists" on Rhapsody, it is then hard to "scrobble" those listens on Last.FM, which I am an avid user of.

I hope this isn't the way it will go, I think this will hurt the independent musician. I also think that it will lead to people having less value for the music they listen to. Most people to do not value film or television the way they used to, it's all disposable.

FMC said...

Those are all good points. Compensation structures in the digital world are still in flux, with the MP3 being closer to what we're used to with physical world, in terms of the royalty breakdown.

On the other hand, there are revenue streams that didn't previously exist like the public performance right for non-interactive online broadcasting. However small the payouts might currently be, they represent a positive development for performing artists and labels who aren't compensated for terrestrial radio plays.

Of course, on-demand listening triggers a different royalty, and these services are still fairly new. Is it possible that the economics of scale (more consumers participating in subscription services) will lead to more robust payouts? Only time will tell.

This presentation is meant to demonstrate to people who might not know about music "access" that there are new ways to legally get their music fix. They may or may not replace other models, but are nonetheless exciting for people who want to hear a wide range of music without having to "own" it.

Thanks for the comment!