Our problem now isn’t piracy, its obscurity
– Tim O’Reilly

The music industry has been the leading edge indicator of how the Connection Economy is supplanting industries who are still stuck in an Industrial Age mindset.

  • Music used to be scarce – limited to the physical albums you bought (& occasional tapes you dubbed)
  • Then the world started going digital
  • Music became easily ripped and friends shared entire MP3 libraries
  • Unsurprisingly pirated MP3s proliferated on the web, but song availability and quality was inconsistent
  • iTunes launches and not only did legally downloading music become more convenient, faster & reliable – almost limitless songs became available
  • Spotify launches and music is now practically abundant via a freemium model

Music went from scarce to abundant.

As Tim O’Reilly observes, a musician’s problem now isn’t piracy, its obscurity.

In a sea of freely available music, how does one get found? And once you get found, how then do you turn your art into a living?

The important lesson for us non-musicians is that what happened to music is happening to every other industry: first with easily digitised media (books, photography, movies, software), then with less obvious ‘art’ like service based businesses and finally with physical objects once 3D printing goes mainstream.

Musicians are merely the first.

It would pay to watch and learn from those who’ve adapted.

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