The music industry is going through a transition from what they called Music 1.0 to the now named Music 2.0. This transition is well documented by authors such as Steve Knopper, Gerd Leonhard, Chris Anderson and many others who have charted the changes in the creation, the content and the distribution.
Music 2.0 has seen the raise of the internet changing the way the music industry has needed to approach the distribution, they once fought against the illegal distributors, people like Napster and shut them down for providing a distribution service to individual consumers, at the time no one in the music industry was providing an accessible way for the mass of connected consumers to access the content in a manner that was affordable, the consumers desire to hold the actual psychical copy declined as the WinAmp provided a way to listen on your PC and with the electronics industry providing a whirlwind of consumer devices to play the new digital content, content the consumers ripped and distributed themselves. Sites like MP3.com, Cductive and eMusic felt a groundswell of consumers looking to find the music content for free. But the labels wouldn’t sign deals to distribute music electronically, those that did like Sony tried to charge $3.50 per track that turned off the early adopters who were willing to pay, turning them to the ever increase sources for illegal content, and why not it was easy!
The massive consumer demand for music created a Pygmalion effect and Music 2.0 was born, it became a commodity, a flat rate had to be enforced for the publishers to maintain their artists presence in the online world, much like the music video was a must have for the artists when MTV started to broadcast.
Music publishers are in the process of moving back to their core business : publishing : as they originally started. This will provide a better alignment between the music labels and the big music publishers and visa versa.
But what will the future hold? A definite change in the distribution channels and a complete overhaul of the license model is in store, but consumers actually don’t care how the distribution and licensing works. They just want to hear music and lets face it they want it for free. Artists already publish their music for free on sites like MySpace, when they are not able to get signed to a label, and major artists like Radiohead changed the face of consumer music purchasing by allowing the consumer to choose what they wanted to pay…. yes some consumers decided to pay nothing, but they figured that these people would only illegally download from bit torrent, Limewire or some other peer2peer network, so why not let them have it the way it was intended to be listened to.
New initiatives like a Music 3.0 project see: The Music Technology Group are busy trying to address these challenges by moving music into the collaborative and social media space, but is this like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted? Still the publishers have seen the disruption in the print industry and are now scrambling to retrieve the the print material to ensure they can reprint on demand, probably something they should have planned when the music industry moved into the Music 2.0 stage rather than when it needs to transition into Music 3.0
In my next installment on the Music industries transition, I’ll focus on how the tornado of change has affected the graphical, design, pre-media and print supply chain through the past 15 years and what is possibly instore for the future.
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