Today’s music scene is incomprehensible without technology. But as advancements in technology in other industries have made our society more social, and interactive, the music industry has failed to do so in similar aspects. For the future of 21st-century music to be a success, the industry will need to address how to incorporate the listener into their music, and not sideline them as mere consumers. Music, as a result of the divide between the creators and consumers, has become more ‘corporate’ — driven by the current aggressive culture of consumerism.
Currently, there is a lot of commotion and hype surrounding streaming, digital distribution, and new delivery outlets like Virtual Reality. Consequently, music distribution will soon be the leading revenue stream. And as a result, music distribution start-ups (particularly VR start-ups) will be acquired by major tech companies and added to their ever-growing list of subsidiaries. Streaming companies will undergo mergers and acquisitions just to survive.
Over the years, rapid advancements in technology and artificial intelligence (AI) have made Radios obsolete, iPods irrelevant, and CDs an ancient relic. Virtual reality will not survive for long if the technology cannot find a solution to remove the overpriced headsets from their equation (ex: Red Hydrogen One recently announced that smartphones displaying 3-D, holographic content, without the use of special glasses, will go into production as soon as Spring 2018). Streaming companies might be popular and riding the current financial wave, but they are hardly profitable. Sooner or later, these modern technologies will enter the dreaded halls of the pantheon of the dead.
Focus on user experience is crucial
The crux of the issue lies with ignoring the need to design a better user experience (UX) for music listeners. ‘Music is about human beings communicating with other human beings’, said Andrew Dubber, Director of Music Tech Fest. The current music experience is personal, and individualistic, thanks to smart devices. But music is meant to be a shared experience.
If there was one format that survived the different phases in technological advancements, and the associated tumults over the ages, it has been Live music — in demand ever since humans started making music. The key to success, for the 21st-century music, lies in designing new user experiences, immersive listening spaces, and breaking down the barrier between the artist and the fan. In other words, we must focus on improving the design and delivery of Live music, through immersive distribution outlets like mixed reality (MR), and augmented reality (AR). It is good to find innovative companies and business leaders like Ossic, Magic Leap, and James Jannard pioneering such pathways.
Shared experiences will lead the way
The financial value of playing music live has always been steady. But I strongly believe we can multiply its value exponentially through the design and incorporation of experiential storytelling, and the introduction of new immersive-based design concepts in concert venues, and other spaces.
People go to the movies, binge-watch TV, and listen to music to escape their current realities. We love new experiences. And they are even more powerful when those experiences are shared with friends, families, and loved ones. And this is where Live music (with the help of AI and AR/MR formats) can find its place and thrive, and promote audience growth — globally.
To put it simple: We must creatively work towards realizing the day when we are able to watch and interact with our favorite bands, and artists — ‘Live’ — in the comfort of our homes; without the use of headsets or special glasses; and enjoy and share those experiences with friends, and family.
Yesterday, the video might have killed the radio star; but tomorrow, the UX will kill the video star.