Last week, I gave a presentation to a group of broadcasters about the future of digital music. I’d have liked to have had everything finished in plenty of time but once again I was working late the night before. It wasn’t that I had been procrastinating. It’s because these days, things in the digital music space can change almost hourly. Here’s a look at what we might expect between now and Christmas.
Apple’s new iTunes component masquerades as a social network — but it’s not. It’s a closed system that only allows you to communicate with other Ping-sters while inside iTunes. There were plans to integrate it with Facebook, but when they heard that Apple was suddenly planning to bring over 160 million users to their servers, they said: “Um, can we talk about this?” To make Ping really useful, Apple, Facebook and Twitter will have to make nice.
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One of the worst-kept secrets in the tech world this summer was Google’s work on setting up a music store to combat iTunes. Given that Apple won’t let Android-powered phones (Android being Google’s open source smart phone operating system) work with iTunes, Google has been thinking about setting up their own store for months. The record labels LOVE this idea because they’re concerned that iTunes is holding too many cards right now.
The New MySpace
Because MySpace didn’t keep up with the times, Facebook came along and quickly ate their lunch in the social networking arena. But although many have declared MySpace dead, there may be a resurrection in the offing as soon as Oct. 15 when Project Futura — the code name for a major MySpace redesign — could reclaim some of that lost ground in the music space. Hell, whatever they’re doing, it has to be better than Ping.
With 500 million users, Facebook can withstand whatever blistering attack comes with the opening of the movie, The Social Network, next week. If I were them, I’d have all my developers working on something I’d call Facebook Music, an easy way for friends to recommend and share music discoveries within the existing Facebook network. There’s some of that going on now, but someone should figure out a way to make it easy and useful. If they can do that, who needs Ping or MySpace?