It’s not secret that many in the past who have predicted certain coming technological changes for the future have been, shall we say, mistaken. After all, more than a few people in the 1980s not so wisely prognosticated that we’d all be riding in fling cars by the turn of the century. Simply put: tech advances over the course of many years often take people by surprise.
Take music for example. For many people, the digital revolution seemed to appear out of nowhere with the advent of a little site called Napster. And in the years since that file-sharing goliath took the world by storm we have seen music and technology take giant strides together. So while it may not be possible to accurately predict every change in music-tech that will occur over the coming years, there is a general road map.
That’s because there is enough information on the current landscape to provide some good indicators of how people will acquire and listen to music in the near future.
Songs Rather Than Albums
According to Steve Guttenberg over at CNET, the future of recorded music over the next decade is uncertain at best. That being said, as long as there is equipment on which to record, musicians shall do so. But the biggest change the music landscape is likely to see in the coming years is the popularity of individual songs over whole albums. As musicians focus less and less on needing to put together a package of songs together (albums) for retail stores, they will instead put focus on building their online catalogs of individual songs.
Eventually, the album itself will go the way of the vinyl record; there will be a few vocal purists, but otherwise musicians will embrace selling their material one track at a time. And consumers will follow.
Streaming rather than Downloading
With the rise of popular socially integrated music-streaming services such as Spotify and Rhapsody, the writing is on the wall that streaming is poised to take over as the dominant way consumers acquire music. After all, it’s much more efficient than purchasing an MP3 file and moving it to the appropriate hard drive. The reason streaming isn’t the default method currently is because not everyone has access to broadband Internet – yet.
But by 2020 expect most people to be streaming music on demand from near-limitless databases rather than paying for individual MP3 songs.
The Rise of Cloud
There’s the very real possibility that the idea of computer or smartphone storage space could be a foreign concept by 2020 – at least as far as music lovers are concerned. Expect gigabytes to give way to cloud storage, where one’s entire personal library can be stored – regardless of its size – and accessed anywhere and everywhere there is an Internet signal. Apple’s recent acquisition of Lala is a real-world example of a giant music provider (iTunes) taking the initial steps to make cloud storage the standard in the near future.
Imagine never having to clear out a hard drive to make space for new music ever again.
Even though the concept of the album may be going the way of the dodo, that isn’t to say music packaging is as well. Expect more and more artists to offer their music alongside artwork, music videos, lyric sheets, integrated mobile applications and more. In fact, the relatively new concept of the artist-specific iPhone app will be the standard in a few years.
In the end, music fans will have more and more access to music via technology in the near future. And with the further integration of multimedia with music, fans can not only build vast libraries of songs, they can enjoy new content from their favorite artists over various mediums.
Justin Miller is a professional blogger that writes on a variety of topics including video guitar lessons. He writes for JamPlay.com, a leading online music educator offering 2,000+ easy guitar songs to learn in HD.