In Stephen J. Dubner's article, "What’s the Future of the Music Industry? A Freakonomics Quorum," Dubner presents five different perspectives from reputedly "smart people" with their best guesses.
Koleman Strumpf, professor of business economics at the University of Kansas Business School, is "dubious about making forecasts." Strumph believes choices the major labels make on key issues and as-yet unknown new technologies technologies will direct the future of music's general course, but he doesn't foresee the recorded music industry's ship sinking.
Fredric Dannen, author of Hit Men: Power Brokers and Fast Money Inside the Music Business, is a bit more pessimistic, stating "You can always count on the record industry to cling to the past, and to fight innovation."
George Drakoulias, music producer, artists & repertoire executive at American Recordings, and veteran of Def Jam Recordings, claims "the old business model is dead." Drakoulias thinks the CD is on its last legs, and will be gone in five years. He also believes the future holds some sort of music subscription service, possibly some pooled talent co-ops, such as the bands of Ozzfest, and computer involvement paired with highly mobile music. In any case he feels
"the future is really in the hands of the consumer," with the public dictating "to whatever is left of the record industry."
Peter Rojas, founder of Engadget and co-founder of RCRD LBL, doesn't "pretend to know what the industry will look like in ten years," but is amused that "music itself is healthier than ever" thanks to the Internet, low-cost (or even no-cost) digital tools, and the resulting explosion of consumer-producer creativity.
Steve Gottlieb, president of TVT Records, feels "we have little choice but to invest in advertising-supported free services that will make this type of consumption profitable." Gottlieb believes the music industry will figure out new ways to recapture the revenue it’s losing, and then develop a "new, secure file format that offers audio, meta-data, and other digital features superior to those of MP3s." Gottlieb suggests this shouldn't pose too much difficulty and will provide the industry access to high quality digital products for direct sale that can be ad free, though he fails to explain how this could happen. He also warns "unless the labels actively reinvent themselves and embrace change, they will continue to find themselves in an expanding music marketplace that rewards their efforts less and less. "
As for me, I am sticking with my idea of bringing music back to the live local venues, with direct marketing of recorded music--for whatever digital devices the future may bring-- allowing more control and revenue to stay where it belongs; in the possession of the music makers.