Monday, July 29, 2013

Shifting shores of digital music

Just some random thoughts sparked by seeing the 'Spotify is killing iTunes' story in the Australian Financial Review that got a mention on ABC24 this morning.

First it was underlining what you read in the tech press about the future all the time, i.e. things are changing quicker.

That the iTunes store has moved from being the snarky young punk the of music distribution business to an overlord in decline, in barely a decade,  is semi-startling.

The ultra-personalised digital world is here, well it's been here for a while but now it's slapping us in the face.

There are some pretty obvious parallels between the ebook and music publishing businesses. What significance for libraries does the apparent coming triumph of streaming/rental over download/own have for us?

Does our ingrained love of the book (the owned object containing fixed information) have as much cachet with Gen Z as it does with boomers? Will information be completely fluid, will all knowledge be a constantly moving mashup?  Maybe it is already. Maybe it always was.

Extrapolating on the moves:
  • from ownership, to rental, to instant access; 
  • from album to song;  
  • from labels dictating taste on large scale to an explosion of gatekeepers directing increasingly specialised taste groups; 
  • from music news from formal publishing and broadcast channels to social media-enhanced word-of-mouth
  • from the recording being the income generator to being merely a promotional tool for gig attendance
 I had a vision.

A vision where a cadre of multitalented individuals visit tiny online communities, opening their ears to great sounds from far off (out) places and moving to the next community.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the digital troubadour.

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