“We are back where we started: paying for experiences, not for artifacts.”
The notorious blog entry on graphpaper.com has officially declared the concept of “owning music” dead. The reason it is dead is because these days recorded music is everywhere and mostly free. Last.fm is the example used:
- Last.fm now allows users to listen to full-length streaming tracks, whenever they want. No charge.
- After listening to the track, it recommends other artists and songs you might like, based on user recommendations and your previous ratings.
- You can then start meeting other users who have similar tastes to your own, and hear new artists you may never have otherwise encountered.
Nowhere in this example is OWNING music required or even desired. When music is truly on-demand, why own it?! The last remaining piece of the puzzle for the music industry is to provide the Last.fm model to mobile devices. Imagine grabbing your mp3 player before going for a stroll around town, but it has virtually no hard drive space. There are no songs on it, but does have wireless broadband connectivity. Upon striding out the door, you type in “Madonna” to bring up a list of her songs and albums, then choose the one you want to listen to.
After enjoying your Madonna track, you click a button for recommendations, and a list of possible matches comes up. Instead, you decide to scroll through your “Playlists” and “Recent Tracks” to listen to a song recommended to you a couple days ago. Curious, you click the artist’s name to see upcoming live shows, then click a date to add it to your calendar with a reminder. Then you send a recommendation to your friend, so that she can listen to some of his tracks and add the show to her calendar as well.
When you get back home, you take your mp3 player and plug it into an adapter on your home stereo system and press “shuffle” as you do some chores. All the tracks are “scrobbled” to your Last.fm account via Wi-Fi, and so far you still haven’t purchased a single track.
Right now, the problem with streaming tracks and subscription-based services is that they are tied to your computer. When technology can allow high-quality audio to stream to mobile devices, then you can officially start donating your cd collection to historical societies.