A Great Question: What’s the Next Format for the Music Industry?

Over the 130-ish years the recorded music industry has existed, we’ve consumed music through cylinders, shellac discs, vinyl, several iterations of magnetic tape (8-track, cassette, DAT, DCC, reel-to-reel), the CD and a couple of failed successors (including SACD and DVD-Audio, among others), the MiniDisc, and innumerable digital file formats. So what’s next?  If we’re into streaming now, is there a “next?”

MusicxTechxFuture.com has asked that same question–and the answer isn’t what you might have expected.

Consumerism helped turn the recording industry into the most powerful part of the music business ecosystem, something which had previously been dominated by publishers. It changed music. The record player moved into the living room, then every room of the house, and the walkman (now smartphone) put music into every pocket. Music gained and lost qualities along the way.

Previously, it had been common for middle class families to have a piano in the home. Music was a social activity; music was alive. If you wanted to hear your favourite song, it would sound slightly different every time. With the recording, music became static and sounded the same way every time. And the shared songs of our culture were displaced by corporate-controlled pop music. People stopped playing the piano; and creators and ‘consumers’ became more clearly distinguished culturally.

With streaming, we are reaching the final stage of this development. Have a look at the above Victor Lebow quote and tell me streaming does not contribute to music being worn out, replaced and discarded at an ever-increasing rate.

The rules of mass production don’t apply to music anymore, since it’s no longer about pressing recordings: anything can be copied & distributed infinitely on the web.

Keep reading. Things get really interesting.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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