The future of music is in bloggers hands. It is blogs and other independent online publishers with strong voices and personalities who are going to dominate the future of music evolution, discovery, promotion and distribution.
Photo credits: Zeljko Milin and Konstantin Tavrov mashed up by Robin Good
"Whether or rather how you will get to keep the music will not be relevant any longer - what matters is the selection, the endorsement, the context, the relevance." writes Gerd Leonhard on his MediaFuture blog when describing what this deep transformation may actually involve.
He goes on to state:
"In less than 2 years from now, ubiquitous and fully legal yet 'feels like free' music offerings will bring us music bloggers that will become bigger than the biggest radio DJs we’ve ever had.
And just like a lot of successful radio personalities before them they will move on to become A&R people and label owners, too."
by Gerd Leonhard
Photo credits: Michael Brown
Within 2 years, the leading music blogs will become what used to be called 'Record Labels'.
The people running them will be those sharp, tuned-in, hyper-networked and resourceful BlogJs formerly known as bloggers. They will use their blogs as the primary attention channel (yes - attention really is the new distribution) and will dish up a complete, interactive and highly relevant multi-media experience that will include TV shows, chats, webcasts and games.
Forget about 'websites' and browsers - the BlogJs will do it on all platforms and devices.
The future brings 1000s of micro-music-channels that will literally broadcast - or rather, 'narrow-cast' their longtailing creations - be it text, audio, images or videos - to their hungry subscribers using MediaRSS feeds and customized my-stuff-pages such as [fiction alert] imoogli, beatwibes and muflakes that will 'live' on any connected device, e.g. your mobile, your TV, your computer, your interactive bathroom screen, your wrist watch, your wimax-ing car radio, or your new P2P global gaming network.
Widgets will continue to become instant, ubiquitous mini-site modules that will allow anyone to re-distribute any kind of content, to any device and any platform, anywhere. Most marketing will be done through and with the users - and some of them will get paid for it, too.
BlogJs will attract an influential, engaged and proactive audience by flouting their charismatic personalities - indeed, these disruptive personalities, thought leaders and influencers will be our future broadcasters.
Like digital-age editions of 'analog' radio personalities such as the BBC’s John Peel (rip), these BlogJs will lead the way in matters of coolness, style, technology, gadgets, trends, politics, fashion and games, using new platforms like [fiction alert] Muserati, Digggster, Musicious, Lovenotion, MyDace and many others. And yes, many of them will be from China, India, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia or Mozambique. Goodbye anglo-centric blogosphere...
Photo credits: Scott Maxwell
...and they will broadcast to (and from!) those always-on, always-within-reach and utterly personalized mobile devices fka mobile phones, not just to or from computers.
Blogs will amalgamate with, and integrate into social networks.
Personal publishing will evolve to include entire ‘me-casting’ toolboxes. My taste, my list, my ears, my audience, my artists, my network i.e.... you guessed, it, my record label. Another 9-12 months and we will have the the first BlogJ signing the first hot new artist to an agency-type agreement.
Music blogs will explode with the advent of the new music fat rate. Sites like [fiction alert] Quadrogum will rule, and blog aggregators like UeberFeed will become the next Infiniti Radio.
Widgets will become as common as email (which will fade away).
Hundreds of niche-obsessed BlogJs will emerge, becoming trusted opinion leaders that will draw 10s if not 100s of 1000s of networked music fans who will discover new music this way - strictly by lifestyle i.e. genre and sub-sub-sub-sub genre. Much like it used to be in music-television; coolness and credibility will rule here.
Those former MP3 pirates and stream-rippers are the new Clive Davis’s and Ahmet Ertegun's - they have the ears for the new artists and a direct pipeline (read: feed) to perfectly matched audiences, around the globe.
BlogJs will open clubs and spaces where their 'readers' can meet, both in RL (Real Life) as well as virtually. Think [fiction alert] HypdaBar. The [fiction alert] nipho9-5 will be their weapon of choice, fully loaded with a 20 mega-pixel camera and HD video recorder, quadraphonic real-time sound remixer, 10+ ways of always-on connectivity, 2.5 terrabyte of flash storage, and a built-in image projector.
Once flat-rate music offerings become the standard... and they will, without a doubt (see more details on Music Like Water) i.e. by early 2009 - music-based blogging will be unleashed in a major way and stands to become very powerful very quickly - everyone is going to want a piece of that hot new BlogJ.
This is when we will see blogs become record labels and music publishers (albeit with an altogether different operating paradigm), filling the gaping void that has been left by the pre-historic and hopelessly control-obsessed major labels, those large indie label chiefs who still hope to become major label bosses themselves before the money dries up, short-sighted and technologically hyper-challenged managers, and eerily self-outmoding public broadcasters.
In less than 2 years from now, ubiquitous and fully legal yet 'feels like free' music offerings will bring us music bloggers that will become bigger than the biggest radio DJs we’ve ever had.
And just like a lot of successful radio personalities before them they will move on to become A&R people and label owners, too.
Photo credits: Drizzd
The difference is, of course, that they will have powerful, direct, zero - friction distribution channels at their disposal, and a loyal global audience, built-in and ready to go. All they have to do is keep on earning and retaining the attention of their users.
Look for those new BlogJ’s to attract highly-targeted and 'loaded' advertisers, steered by forward-looking major-brand CMOs and next-generation creative agencies such as TribalDDB or Droga5. These ads will pay as much as $5 per click-thru (CPT), with major brands ‘sponsoring’ music blogs that fit their exact brand vision.
Once the bizarrely overdue and tired issue of 'how to legally provide streams and downloads of any song I choose' is solved, so that a BlogJ can finally use music just like a radio station uses music (i.e. powered by a collective voluntary blanket license), music blogs will explode and quickly increase their reach beyond the current blogosphere inhabitants and netizens, beyond the computer, and most importantly beyond the web browser.
Imagine a blog that streams a personalized radio channel via a mobile application that sits within your favorite social network - this is the next radio!
Whether or rather how you will get to keep the music will not be relevant any longer - what matters is the selection, the endorsement, the context, the relevance.
No longer are we going to be hungry for just any music provided that it's free, now we are hungry for relevance.
Photo credits: Maximus
So, here is some advice for the last few incumbent record labels of today:
Soon, a music-RSS feed from the leading goa-pop guru can be just as valuable as those hip shows programmed by Nick Harcourt at KCRW or by Stephen Hill at Hearts of Space (and theirs will be even more renowned).
Once broadcasting is legally and officially delivering music and the myriad of bizarre licensing problems fall by the wayside, bloggers will quickly morph into record labels.
Artists will 'sign' them to get their official approval which will mean instant notoriety in your target audience.
Originally written by Gerd Leonhard for MediaFuturist and first published on April 8th, 2008 as "Future Stories #1: Blogs will be Record Labels, and Bloggers will be the new Music Moguls. BlogJs anyone?" Gerd Leonhard -