The changing musical landscape

Two entries popped up in my RSS reader today that made me think about the ever-changing musical landscape:

  • On the shifted librarian, Jenny talks about changing behaviors when it comes to music. A 9-year-old thinking of music as something you burn, not a piece of plastic, represents one of the biggest challenges to date to the music industry. While peer-to-peer networks represented the beginning of a battle, that shift in behavior among kids represents a potentially disturbing trend: if this behavior doesn’t change, 5-6 years from now (when those kids are teenager) the music industry will see steep declines in the sales of music CDs. In other words, the medium no longer matters as an entity. Recurring revenues based on changes in format (as was the case with the move from LPs to tapes, and then from tapes to CDs) will no longer exist.
  • In a somewhat related story, Martin Tobias talks about bands selling concert videos through iTunes. This represents threat number two to the music industry in that no record label was involved in this transaction. It could be because they didn’t want to be but that’s a source of revenue that is no longer available to a label. This lack of foresight could eventually lead to artists or bands dealing directly with the stores instead of using the labels as a go-between. As I predicted earlier, Apple is now starting to sell other media types than music (I expect movies will be next). I had predicted the rise of online music stores as a potential way for music labels to adapt to the new world of digital media but had not anticipated the possibility of “someone else” running the relationship between artists and consumers. This could have devastating effects on companies that do not adapt quickly enough

Between the change in behavior patterns among consumers and the threat represented by online music stores cutting their own deals with bands, music labels could find themselves squeezed out of existence, or at least out of growth potential (since they still do own copyrights to large collections they can still sell) within the next 5-10 years.

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