The book I chose for my review was The Future of Music: Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution by David Kusek and Gerd Leonhard. I was hesitant to choose this title because it was written in 2005 and so much has changed since then. But on the other hand, it was the only book from the list of options that was centered on music (a passion of mine), and I figured it would be interesting to read how the authors foresee the future of music consumption and the music business in general. Kusek and Leonhard (2005) explore the current state of the music business and record industry at the time (at the time) and explain how digital technology would become a game changer for all parties involved including music consumers.
It was remarkable to see how much foresight Kusek and Leonhard (2005) had when the book was written, which predated the first iPhone. In fact, after reading the first few pages I found myself double-checking to see if the book was actually written in 2005. Kusek and Leonhard (2019) invite the reader to “imagine a world where music flows all around us, like water, or like electricity” (p. x) and is “ubiquitous, mobile, shareable, and as pervasive and diverse as the human cultures that create it” (p.3). They were confident that the sea of music would be instantly accessible (for almost free) on mobile phones that would connect to digital music services along with access to a variety of other media (pg. 34).
In this world, both CDs and record stores would be obsolete. It is noted though, that despite a huge plunge in CD sales at the time, the concert business in the United States was flourishing with live music being more popular than ever (pg.7). Now in 2019, CDs are just about obelste, record stores have dwindled, and the concert industry is still very strong.
Kusek and Leonhard (2005) make it clear that access would replace ownership. To them, it was only a matter of time before music subscription services would be available where music would be streamed as opposed to being downloaded. Moreover, people wouldn’t feel a need to physically possess music anymore. They asserted that even though quality would not be equal to a CD, the benefits of streaming services to users would outweigh the drawbacks. The differences in audio quality would not be a problem considering how cheap subscriptions would be (pg.11). Kusek and Leonhard (2005) also mention that out wireless devices would make music recommendations, and allow for a place for music discussions to take place. Users would be able to share interests and opinions with each other, in addition to the music itself. This would all happen once wireless network access was affordable, reliable and networks provided simplified pricing and sound that was acceptable to the masses (pg. 15).
In thinking about my own experience, my music listening methods have changed in a way that Kusek and Leonhard (2005) would have predicted. My CD collection is now stored away in boxes and I mostly use music streaming services, mainly Spotify. Even though I am picky about audio quality, I find the benefits of music streaming services to far outweigh the drawbacks. Using Spotify’s highest audio quality setting (320 kbs) and a pair of good quality headphones, I am perfectly content. When I happen to be at home and have time to really soak in an album, I play vinyl records on my old-school record player.
I love the convenience of having my entire record collection with me virtually anywhere I go. I have been slowly adding me albums from both my CD and vinyl collection to my Spotify account so that I can have easy access to them. I can simply use the search box in the app to find an artist, album, or song and save it in my library. I’m happy to find that the vast majority of the music from my physical collection is available on Spotify. And even more, I can access and save music exclusively made available in Spotify (e.g., live recording sessions) and get to play around with a whole bunch of music discovery features.
So where does a 21st century library or “Hyperlinked Library” fit in this picture? How can they help or enrich the life of a music fan or someone interested in the music business? If CDs are obsolete and access to music is already pretty much free, what kind of music should libraries offer? These are the type of questions I will be exploring throughout the duration of this class (and beyond).
One thing that comes to mind, is library staff being able to teach patrons on how to use ever evolving technologies including devices, products, and services. For example, staff can help patrons navitage options and features, troubleshoot issues, or even just get started, via music streaming workshops, iPhone workshops, etc. In fact, these are the types of workshops I get to teach at one of the public libraries I work at. These kind of offerings resemble the Library 2.0 model (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007), which emphasis reaching out to potential library users in addition to current library users. In other words, workshops that teach users various technologies in this digital world can attract those that might not have been inclined to visit a library before-hand.
Something else that is often on my mind, is the library being a place where people can gather. Sure, patrons can stream music for free (at least the ones with access to a decent Internet connection), but the library can be a place where music enthusiasts can attend events where they can meet others and have discussions about similar interests. Speaking of which, I’m currently in the process of putting together a music club, which will be essentially a music version of a book club. Lastly, I love the idea of libraries being places where patrons can have a music practice/rehearsal space and even rent instruments.
Casey, M.E., & Savastinuk, L.C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. Medford, New Jersey: Information Today.
Kusek, D. & Leonhard, G. (2005).The Future of Music: Manifesto for the digital music revolution. Boston, MA: Berklee Press.