Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Future Of Music: A Video Interview With Gerd Leonhard

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What is the future of music? A recent report quoted by the RIIA, says that "global music piracy causes $12.5 billion of economic losses every year". How can the music business change to survive?

Photo credit: Robin Good

In the future of music there will be no CDs or MP3s. Music on the web will be unfettered and purchased in the same way in which you consume music on the radio or television. You do not pay an extra fee for music inside your favorite TV shows, right? Media futurist Gerd Leonhard defines this idea "music like water".

How can music be like water?

Providers will be offering music as a small portion of payments you already make. It may be your hosting provider fee, your e-mail account, or even part of your telephone subscription, but you will have access to an unlimited quantity of music without even noticing.

"There should be a provision for me to pay along with the DSL or the mobile phone subscription. [...] In most contexts, this would be paid for by advertising so [music] would be subsidized [...] like we have now for BlackBerry."

Allowing people to have an "unfettered, unrestricted and unlimited" access to music on the web, may also lead music piracy slow down. Copying and sharing music illegally no longer makes sense when you listen to as much music as you like, without paying for any single song.

In this video interview shot by Robin Good, Gerd Leonhard explains why the "business model of music is completely broken" and shares this exciting vision on the future of music.


The Future of Music - Gerd Leonhard

Duration: 2' 10''

Full English Text Transcription

Gerd Leonhard: In my view of the future of music... the good news is that of course everybody wants to listen to more music and consuming more music all the time.

We have more people listening on the web, more people listening to radio and television. Interest in music is booming.

The bad news is of course the business model of music, which is completely broken. It was based on selling units, selling copies.

Now we are switching to a model to where we are selling access first, and then the copies. It is a service model. Music as a service, music, as I like to say: "music like water".

If you go to you can see what I write about this.

Basically it is a model that says that music should be included in the network access, just like music is now included in radio. We do not pay for music when we listen to radio and, of course, television.

Similar to that, music should be included when I go on the web. There should be a provision for me to pay along with the DSL or the mobile phone subscription. I would say in most cases, in most contexts, this would be paid for by advertising, so it would be subsidized or by bundled subscriptions, like we have now for BlackBerry.

We can see the first couple of models about online music evolving already in:

These models make a lot of sense, because the future of music, in my view, is basically an unfettered, unlimited, unrestricted access on a revenue-sharing basis, so that we go away from the climate of having a certain file format or a certain price or a certain way of delivery and we can open up the ecosystem.

I think that is true, in general for all future of media: we are moving to an open platform, a connective platform, a revenue-sharing platform. Basically an ecosystem of how the money flows rather than monopolies of how the money flows, which is what we had so far.


The Challenge For Independent Musicians - Gerd Leonhard

Duration 1' 50"

Gerd Leonhard: The Internet is both good and bad news for independent musicians.

The good news is that we all get to use the tools that only the professionals had or the ones that were signed to major labels until now.

For example:

Those were tools that 10 years ago were only available with professional PR agencies or filmmakers and so on.

All these tools are now widely becoming available:

That is the good news.

The bad news is that because of the ease of this channel becoming available to everyone, the noise is just crazy. That is not really bad news. The bad news is that you have to cut through the noise.

The challenge for the independent musician or for independent labels is to get attention. To get people to pay attention, because when you get attention, you can turn that into money if you wish.

Without attention there is no money.

The challenge is - and this is what my advice for musicians would be - get as much attention as you can for your high-quality stuff.

This is the other really tough thing on the web: If you are not really good, nobody will pay attention. You cannot lie on the web, and I think that is good news, but some people think it is bad news.

You cannot act like you are good and not actually be good, because on the web you get found out. That is true for bloggers, writers and filmmakers. It is a very Darwinistic system.

For musicians, assuming that you are good, my word of advice would be:

  • Get as much attention as you can for everything you should do,
  • publish everything,
  • build the audience, and then
  • start converting the audience and the attention into some sort of way of monetizing it.

Video clips originally recorded by Robin Good for MasterNewMedia. Article editing by Elia Lombardi and Daniele Bazzano. First published on October 16th, 2009 as "The Future of Music: A Video Interview with Gerd Leonhard".

About Gerd Leonhard


Gerd Leonhard is a media futurist as well as an author and writer, a media and Internet entrepreneur, a strategic advisor, and a keynote speaker & presenter. If you want to get a good feel for what he does, you can check out Gerd's blog MediaFuturist or visit his Youtube channel.

Robin Good -
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posted by on Friday, October 16 2009, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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