Access to music – i.e. a simple click-to-play, anywhere, anytime, anything – is replacing ownership. This trend will quickly accelerate due to the massive global build-up in cheap wireless broadband connectivity, leading us swiftly to the point where listening to a song will be exactly the same as downloading it (at least in practical terms, from the users’ perspective). Some of us would argue that this is already the case, of course, but in terms of mass-scale user adoption I would say we are about 18 months away from the pivot point in the so-called developing countries.
The music industry needs to urgently get ready for this: sell access not (just) copies. Bundle. Package. Develop those new generatives. “When copies are free you need to sell things that can’t be copied” (Kevin Kelly, The Technium).
Another important trend to embrace is the move to mobile devices that will pretty much replace the computer as primary access point to the Internet i.e. to all digital content. Mobile applications for smart-phones will take the place of sound-carriers; music will be sold as/in/via/with software. Read how Pandora is doing this, in the U.S.