This much we know: The rise of digital music has completely changed the music industry. “It’s upside down,” says Dan Teree, a former Vice President of Ticketmaster. “Nobody buys music anymore. That whole recorded revenue stream is being gutted and it’s accelerating.” The downfall of a once-prosperous music recording industry has been much publicized, but what’s less often discussed is the massive opportunity to add value to the mobile music experience.
“Smartphones have created new distribution channels, and the ability to reach targeted or wider audiences,” says David Tisch, Investor and Managing Director of TechStars NYC. In the last year we have seen an explosion of startups taking advantage of this opportunity, namely subscription services like Rdio and Spotify that are changing the entire notion of your music “collection.”
But the opportunity is much larger than simply distributing music. In the era of Social Mobile Location, music has become a platform for a next generation of apps. Tech-darling Turntable.fm has given users the ability to take turns DJing music in an online shared-experience environment. Though I don’t use the product, I’m extremely impressed with Soundtracking, an app that merges music with mobile location, letting users pinpoint the exact place and experience they had while listening to a song and share it with their social graph. Music has the potential to become an entirely new layer in the mobile ecosystem.
I’ve singled out the opportunity in music because I truly believe we can, and will, do better. Consumers are just getting used to the unlimited access to music provided by the mobile web, and the industry establishment is decades behind the early tech startups. The convergence of technology and music is moving so fast that even successful innovations are getting left in the dust in a matter of a few years. Remember when you used to download music in the iTunes store? Or use Pandora? Rhapsody?
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