That the music industry has radically changed in the last decade is a serious understatement. Technology has altered everything from the creation of music to its distribution, upending retailers, studios and business models across the industry. But it’s not all bad news. Music isn’t dying so much as evolving, and the landscape is already beginning to look quite different.
Not long ago, the professional music industry involved a complex but fixed set of players: artists, labels, managers, promoters and the like. Many of these roles have changed, but none have disappeared. They’re joined by a new set of participants: tech giants, streaming services, social music startups and, perhaps most crucially, developers.
Every stakeholder in this new (and still emerging) digital music ecosystem plays their own important role in the creation and consumption of music. But it’s this new contingent of hackers and developers that appear poised to have the biggest impact on what music will look like in the future.
This weekend, coders and industry representatives gathered in San Francisco for Music Hack Day, a tradition that has spanned continents for the last four years. Like other hack days and hackathons, the event is dedicated to bringing developers together to build new things using the latest technologies and platforms. In this case, the focus is on music, so the toolkit includes everything from mobile hardware and homemade digital instruments to open Web standards and the APIs of services like SoundCloud, Last.fm, Spotify and the Echo Nest.
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