Ten years ago today, a BlackBerry was a pager and we used Alta Vista instead of Google. “Encyclopedia” meant “Britannica,” YouTube was inconceivable and there were no such things as iTunes, iPods or iPhones.
As we partied because it was 1999 (and worried that non-Y2K compliant computers would launch nukes at the stroke of midnight), we had no idea of the coming changes that would overhaul how music is made, marketed, distributed and consumed. Everything about music and the music business has been irrevocably changed.
So what will the next ten years bring? Here are a few wild guesses.
The rise of streaming services: Manually compiling and loading a playlist on an MP3 player will soon seem as primitive as painting hunting scenes on the wall of a cave. Imagine a customized playlist that’s assembled for you and follows you everywhere. We’ll slowly move away from owning music to accessing it whenever we want, wherever we happen to be and on whatever device we choose.
Satellite radio morphs into a streaming service: Why keep expensive satellites in orbit when Sirius/XM can soon use their existing infrastructure to provide customizable music streams through high-speed wireless networks?
The world in your dashboard: Within a few years, the standard AM/FM/CD unit will be as quaint as a gramophone. Using some form of always-on wireless connection, new in-dash entertainment systems will provide us everything from our individually customized music streams to real-time, super-localized traffic linked to your vehicle’s GPS.
More cool new devices: Apple’s upcoming tablet might very well change things the way the iPhone has. The secret sauce will be its array of apps that will allow it to do just about anything. We’ll finally have our Star Trek tricorder.
The end of traditional radio, TV and print: Everything will coalesce into just “media” and “content” with audio, video and text delivered through the Internet and accessible on a variety of devices.
We’ll have to rethink the old Canadian content rules: How can you maintain content quotas on an infinite Internet? Radio and TV, today’s cultural gatekeepers as defined by the CRTC, will have to be cut some slack. Artists, labels, publishers and broadcasters all have skin in this game which will be highly emotional and extremely political.
Lots can happen in ten years. After all, in 1999, Pluto was still a planet.