The Digital Music Forum Thanks to Marty Lafferty and the Distributed Computing Industry Association for inviting me to speak at the Digital Music Forum East last week. I spoke on a panel discussing digital music access “from the cloud” and via peer-to-peer technology. I’ve been involved with digital music for a very long time. I began with digital music in 1993 when I was a lead QA and Support Engineer for the Sonic Solutions digital audio mastering products, which were the first generation of professional audio tools that ran on a desktop computer- a Macintosh back then. These systems were used by top music, movie, and film studios around the world and were, at the time, a primary platform for producing the master CD used by the factory for replication. The sale of CDs was a mature business, but the technology used to create them was still in its infancy. I was very fortunate and go to help support this new technology for musical heroes such as Peter Mew (engineer of the Beatles), Bob Ludwig (Gateway Mastering), and [XXX] of David Bowie’s engineering team. Many years have passed since those pioneering days, and I’ve seen many businesses come and go in the field of digital music technology. The Digital Music Forum addressed topics focused on the future of music in the digital age. The speakers, who ranged from top music company executives to heads of leading online music services like Limewire and Vevo seemed to come down on one of two sides of a viewpoint about the future of music in the digital era:
- The light side: the massive access of billions of hits online to music and music related content via downloads, video, social networking, e-commerce, games, and a million other methods represents a huge new revolution in the music industry with all kinds of opportunities for traditional music businesses and entrepeneurs alike.
- The dark side: sales of music are collapsing by double digits year over year. The music companies continue to want exorbitant fees for the licensing and syndication of music and music videos- if you are lucky enough to be able to negotiate the dense labyrnith of rightsholders and lawyers. These old world practices will cause the death of the big music company and therefore the death of new music from both small bands (who see no future in it) and superstars (who can’t be superstars without the marketing and business power of the big music companies).