The music industry is clearly in a state of transition towards a streaming model. By shifting to streaming, many of the problems that have plagued the digital music industry involving unauthorized file sharing at one end of the spectrum and unpopular DRM attempts at the other, become closer to being irrelevant. It has become apparent that people want to experience any music they want, wherever they are without the need to “own” a product or a digital representation of a product, and are willing to pay for this service if it is priced right. Overall, this can be seen as a positive development, as more people will have an easier time enjoying access to more music. However, as we move through this transition, some problems are showing up.
One of the main issues relates to the way in which creators are being compensated. Some of the complaints are focused on the streaming services themselves and the rates that they pay, the way in which the payments are divvied up, and the cut they take.
Other complaints are focused on certain labels and the outdated nature of the agreements the artists have with them, how these labels have positioned themselves atop the streaming services and how the end result is a tiny trickle ending up in the actual creator’s pockets.
Yet if we examine these intermediaries, it becomes apparent that many of them are needless and can be removed by today’s technology.
It is conceivable that many of the intermediaries that have built up over the last century of recorded music can be reduced or even dissolved by efficient use of today’s technological innovations.
It appears that if there ever has been a time to start over, and build a new music industry from the ground up, designed specifically for this new streaming paradigm, that time is now!
If we can start fresh, by creating a subscription based streaming music system that functions without being a centralized company, so that virtually 100 percent of the payments go to the owners of the sound recordings and songs —
and if we can optimize this new system on the rise of artists that are more in control of their own content, so that the payments can go more directly to them—
and if this system provides a platform for Artists and Appreciators to create new forms of connections and relationships–
then a new digital music industry will have the opportunity to really flourish with the best that today’s technology has to offer.
Imagine a streaming music service that does not require a centralized server, and a social networking system that is built on a decentralized cloud, where the user, rather than a corporate entity, owns and controls their own data. There is no centralized server in the middle, rather the system is pushed to the outer edges, hence resembling a bagel.
Imagine that this system provides the architecture to enable automatic direct connections and micropayments between Artist and Appreciator (A2A). Each user, Artist and Appreciator alike, can create their own micro site and will have the opportunity to bring value to the community and be compensated for that value. Fans are encouraged to participate rather than be passive consumer spectators!
If this new system is unowned and unownable, like the web itself, we have the potential to create a new digital music industry that can truly scale globally, as the experience of music makes it’s complete migration to the internet in the form of a streaming, service based model.