The future of the music industry and the way we consume music has been a hot topic for the last several years. The introduction of streaming services, the lack of transparency in royalty payments, and the concerns of piracy have plagued the minds of artists in recent years. We often wonder how musicians will survive in this "freemium" industry, and it creates a dim look at the future of music.
Predictions of what the world may look like in 10, 20, even 30 years bring out the curiosity in everyone. We've been formulating ideas of the possibilities since The Jetsons and more recently in Back to the Future. While we don't have flying cars yet, some past predictions have been pretty spot on.
Much like we're doing today, musicians of the past were curious to know what music was going to sound, look, and act like in the future (which happens to be today's modern culture). Icons of different eras and genres have been calling the future cards for decades now, and their forecasts are eerily correct.
So hop in the DeLorean and let's go back to the past (to see the future).
1. Jim Morrison
In a 1969 interview, Jim Morrison of the Doors predicted a clear vision of the future of music:
"That's probably what's going to happen: some brilliant kid will come along and be popular. I can see a lone artist with a lot of tapes and electrical...like an extension of the Moog synthesizer – a keyboard with the complexity and richness of a whole orchestra, y'know? There's somebody out there, working in a basement, just inventing a whole new musical form."
This quote is easily one of the most recognizable ones. And that's partly because it's been featured in several different electronic dance songs – which only emphasizes his point further. Pretty accurate, right?
2. David Bowie
Okay, so David Bowie not only was one of the greatest, weirdest, and most interesting musicians to have graced our ears, but he also alluded to some real concerns in the music industry in 2002:
"I'm fully confident that copyright, for instance, will no longer exist in 10 years, and authorship and intellectual property is in for such a bashing. So it's like, just take advantage of these last few years because none of this is ever going to happen again.
"Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity...you'd better be prepared for doing a lot of touring because that's really the only unique situation that's going to be left. It's terribly exciting. But on the other hand, it doesn't matter if you think it's exciting or not; it's what's going to happen."
While copyright law still exists, Bowie was spot on with his statement about touring.
3. Giorgio Moroder
On Daft Punk's most recent album, Random Access Memories, the robot duo featured disco icon Giorgio Moroder. Moroder speaks about his time as a young musician and his aspirations for his own future sound:
"I wanted to do an album with the sounds of the '50s, the sounds of the '60s, of the '70s, and then of a sound of the future, and I said, 'Wait a second, I know the synthesizer – why don't I use the synthesizer, which is the sound of the future?' And I didn't have any idea what to do, but I knew needed a click, so we put a click on the 24-track we then synced to the Moog modular I knew that could be a sound of the future, but I didn't realize how much the impact would be."
It's interesting to hear how Moroder reflects on the impact of the synthesizer in a modern context. He was certainly right about the synthesizer becoming the sound of the future.
4. Brian Eno
Brian Eno is considered a sonic innovator and pioneer, but he also had some interesting ideas about the future of the music industry. From a 1995 interview with Wired magazine:
“What people are going to be selling more of in the future is not pieces of music, but systems by which people can customize listening experiences for themselves...change some of the parameters and see what you get. So, in that sense, musicians would be offering unfinished pieces of music – pieces of raw material, but highly evolved raw material, that has a strong flavor to it already.”
Eno's prediction isn't exactly true at the moment, but it's getting close. Bands, producers, and artists are releasing stems of their songs for fans to remix them. In 2013, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek played to Eno's predictions, imagining that artists would soon offer as many as 30 different versions of an album, or songs with multiple endings.
What do you think the future of music will sound and look like? Let us know in the comments!
Rachel Bresnahan is an editorial intern at Sonicbids.