It's that time of year to take out the Crystal Ball and see what the New Year has in store.
What a year 2008 has been. It goes without saying that the economic downturn will have a substantial impact on the music industry in the year ahead. But I also see growth, opportunity and innovations having a countervailing impact.
Music Technology among the first to recover. Even during hard times, arts and entertainment flourishes. And the good times will roll again. And when recovery comes, music tech will be leading the way. This happened when we went through the last recession. Electronic Musicians will need new technology to survive and stay ahead of the curve.
Netbooks Will Be Ubiquitous. Netbook sales are expected to double in 2009. The rapid adoption of Netbooks based on low cost, mobility and convenience will be a boom for musicians. The biggest impact from netbooks will be the music aps that support them.
Cloud Computing Gains More Acceptance. "Cloud computing", where software applications live on servers "in the cloud" rather than on individual hard drives, will gain in popularity. Cloud computing is economical (free in most cases) and convenient. Right now the momentum is in email, social network and office products, but we can soon see music apps in the cloud. There are still some growing pains (outages, security, etc) but these will be overcome as the cloud gains critical mass. Cloud Computing will give musicians access to their software, files and media wherever they are.
Some Music Companies will Not Survive. 2008 we saw GigaStudio being discontinued and music companies being restructured. Sales are weak for many companies and music companies are not immune. The strong will survive, some will depart and we'll also see new innovative companies seize opportunity and enter the music tech scene.
Windows 7 will help the music industry. Microsoft has learned from Vista and early reports are that it is very good. There is pent-up demand for it and this new OS could catalyze music technology and propel it to new heights. At the same time, Apple's market share will inch upwards.
Open source may get a boost. Economics may cause musicians to take a look at open source and open format products as an option. Open source music products, especially in the Linux community, are becoming quite good and robust. We may see the adoption of more 'free' music software as education and other budgets get slashed.
Interfaces getting better. Touch-screens are getting more responsive to the touch and more stable. Nintendo's Wii has motion-sensitive controllers, and the iPhone has an accelerometer. These are being used in music and we'll see this gain more popularity in 2009. Haptic displays (whcih give tactile feedback) are in use now. Gesture-recognition technology is gaining momentum too. These technologies may make its way to music apps.
UBS 3 Arrives. The USB 3.0 specification has been finalized. The new interface technology provides ten times the speed of USB 2 and we can expect to see USB 3 audio interfaces and devices later this year.
HD MIDI will finally be adopted. This has been a long time coming and we just may see it happen in 2009.
Downloadable Sounds and Greener Packing. We'll see companies thinking outside the box by making their product packaging greener and/or offering downloadable sounds.
Trade Shows on the Decline. Trade show attendance has been down in many shows. And companies are cutting expenses. Apple is pulling out of MacWorld after this year and the Ubuntu conference was canceled. The International Jazz Conference went bankrupt. We may see others follow suite.We'll know in a couple weeks if NAMM bucks the trend (I think it will be a great show).
Musicians remain in driver’s seat. In the current economic climate, musicians will demand good value from their products. Trust will play a major role. And musicians will have more leverage and more choices than in previous years.
Yes, the economy is the worse it's been in a while, but musicians always overcome in adversity and lead us to a better place.
What are your predictions for 2009?
Happy New Year and may you live in interesting times.