If 2008 was the year that music went truly digital; we’re predicting that 2009 will be the year digital music got truly consumer-friendly. With any luck, 2009 will b the year we look back upon and say ‘that was the last time we heard DRM mentioned’ or ‘that was the last time I recall a music fan being sued by the music industry’.
Time will tell of course, but on the eve of MIDEM, we thought we’d throw in our lot and peer into the TMV crystal ball and see what it reveals. This post was co-written by Jakomi Mathews and Chris Mclellan
1. iTunes & Amazon will launch subscription services
Recent problems with Last.FM royalty payments notwithstanding, the growth of it and other subscription services such as nokia “Comes With Music’ Rhapsody have now combined with ubiquitous home broadband and interesting hardware solutions (Sonos & Logitech) to make music subscription a truly valid alternative to “owning” tracks.
With mobile subscription companies like Omnifone making big waves as well, we think the largest of the online music stores will be hard-pressed to resist the trend much longer.
2. iTunes will go ‘All MP3’
The time has come. The gloves are off. Amazon Music has done it. 7Digital has done it. Even though combined these two music shops make up perhaps 20% of the download market, we still expect Mr.Jobs to finally apply Apple’s pro-consumer heritage to their digital music offering in 2009.
Ok, this might not be one of our boldest predictions for 2009. But for music consumers everywhere, it will truly be one of the most welcome. Fingers crossed we see an end to apple’s “walled garden” approach.
3. Mobile Social Music Will Fail To Make In-roads
While TMV applauds the efforts of Nokia (Comes With Music), Vodafone (Omnifone) and Sony Ericsson (Music) first effort, the core fact that there is still such a dearth of unlimited data plans in the market, especially for pre-paid contracts favoured by younger consumers, will hold back these services.
Furthermore, the fact that initial mobile social music efforts have been tied to DRM technology, effectively creating a closed social network, imposes great limitations. It’s like Last.FM being “Dell Only”.
Someone will come out with a mobile social network for music that is free of both bespoke DRM technology and manufacturer handsets. The best bet that we see is for an iPhone social networking app emerging. Either that, or a Last.FM doing a deal with, oh let’s say T-Mobile.
4. Mobile Ticketing Will Go Mass Market
After some promising experiments in 2008 (Ticketmaster with O2 for the Wireless festival), mobile ticketing will go Big Time in 2009. After all, what could be easier or more convenient than purchasing a ticket from a mobile referral service and then having your m-ticket sent directly to your mobile device?
That scenario is also a small part of what is driving the pending O2/Live Nation link up. How long before mobile ticketing becomes far more widespread, both from Live Nation/ Ticketmaster as well as they’re Secondary Ticketing cousins? Not long is the answer. Look for pioneers like Mobiqa to make some big announcements in the coming months.
5. Blackberry & Google Will Release Handsets with Music Propositions
With major hardware and content partners linking up like horny teenagers, these two vendors can spare no time in launching serious challengers to the Sony Ericsson’s, Apple’s and Motorola’s of the world who have shown a real interest in tapping into the mobile needs of the music fan.
With Blackberry desperate to get into consumer sales, and the rest of the pack including awakening-giant Google chasing the iPhone’s superior music experience, we expect some hot ‘n saucey handsets from these two in the first half of the year which will really build on their interesting, but modest first efforts at creating a fan-friendly handset.
6. Playlist Sharing will take off
Despite their current copyright issues over in-line linking (which we think they’ll win), Playlist.com will prove just the beginning of digital music’s answer to the mixed tape of yesteryear. And why? Because people (ok, young men) love to share music and the playlist is an easy and fun way for the average music consumer to be creative with the music they love.
We expect more services like Playlist, and certainly improved efforts from iTunes and Last.FM on the playlist front. We love Last.FM’s use of tagging to create lists. Let’s build on that sort of creativity.
7. Secondary Ticketing
With Ticketmaster launching its own secondary ticketing company have the legal hurdles with artists, agents and their managers finally been overcome or is it a wrangle that will go on? In TMVs view artists are still not paid an appropriate level in terms of secondary ticket sales. However we do see light shining at the end of the tunnel near Q4 of 2009.
8. Music Sales
Its been a scary year with physical sales dropping by over 20%, pinnacle the UK’s largest independent music distributor going bust, EUUK who supplied Woolworth’s and Zavvi going down the drain. So one distributor and two key major high street music retailer down the drain with Woolworth’s reportedly owning Universal Music more than £20 million.
On the positive side we saw the entry of Myspace music and Amazon MP3 into the European markets. So will 2009 be the year sales bounce back? TMVs view is NO. As margins are tighter in digital which yes is increasing but is still not making up for that gap in terms of record company margins.
TMV predict we may see one or two companies based around new models from 2007/2009 go belly up as advertisers spend less in recessions. On the flip side TMV predict we will see music sales in emerging markets via mobile dramatically increase.
9. 360 Deals
The catch phrase of 2008 “360 deal” is now so warn out with the likes of Live Nation signing massive deals with current megastars on a the downward end of their aging careers and then the Groups CEO firing the board members of Artist Nation. In terms of the world’s largest music promoter TMV forecast that 360 deals are dead (albeit Live Nation has some over priced artists to offload to release records). On the live music promoter front TMV believe the concept of 360 deals are now well and truly dead.
In terms of the major labels, none will do a deal with an artist unless they do 360 deals. TMV predict this grip will only get stronger throughout the year and that the industry will not begin to see the negative fall-out until 2010 and beyond. Who will be the first artist to take their label to court for cross collatorisation? Any takers or views form TMVs readers in the legal fraternity out there?
10. MySpace Music & Merlin
TMV predict that MySpace music will conclude a deal with indie digital licensing powerhouse Merlin – albeit neither side will probably be 100% happy with the outcome of the deal concluded and we predict that a deal may be announced before the end of Q2 2009
2008 and was the year ISPs who in any legal definition in court would easily been seen as accessories to copyright crime by juries across the globe, finally coming to the table in the UK, France and a few other territories. The folks here at TMV predict that this will spread further afield and that by the close of 2009 we will all see agreements on a global level between ISPs and Copyright owners. TMV predict the next country to embrace collaboration instead of confrontation will be Australia.