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Jim Letourneau's Blog

Investing, Technology, Travel, Geology, Music, Golf. I think that covers it.

Big Picture Fridays - The Future of Music

It was only a couple of years ago that I paid a service to convert every single one of my CDs to digital files. At the time I thought that having those files organized in iTunes would serve me well into the future. It turns out I was wrong.

The future of music is streaming.

It will look something very much like a service currently available Sweden, Norway, Finland, the United Kingdom, France and Spain called Spotify. You can't access Spotify in North America unless you are tech savvy. I've been listening to this infinite jukebox for several months now and I can't get enough of it. While the interface looks like iTunes, the music is free (if you are willing to listen to advertisements). Punch up nearly any artist or song name and it will start playing within seconds. While the service is currently weak in the Canadian classic rock category, I have no doubts that this will eventually be rectified as the service expands its 6 million track library.

Did you know that the average iPod has only 20 purchased songs on it? At $0.99 each Steve Jobs is not going to be the savior of the withering major labels. A mere $20 makes for a very low bar for competing distribution models like Spotify.

This is a fundamental shift for music lovers. The requirement to own music will soon be replaced by  a service model where a monthly fee allows access to an infinite music library that is hosted on the Internet cloud.

I find tracing the music associated with Joshua Tree, a short drive from Palm Springs, far more fun and interesting when I have instant access to each artist's music. Visitors or residents of the area include
Allie Wrubel, Dick Dale, Gram Parsons, Eric Burdon, Josh Homme, Victoria Williams, Robert Plant, U2, Gram Rabbit, and Arctic Monkeys.

Other streaming music services include Pandora, Rhapsody, lala, Grooveshark and LastFM.

Some of these services are geographically restricted due to licensing issues but there are ways around this. I've had good results using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that allows me to use a US or UK IP address wherever I happen to be.

Apple's recent acquisition of lala indicates that the iTunes model may be shifted to incorporate streaming music.