The future of music: how we will listen

It seems the future of music is constantly evolving. Music fans have seen technology change the way they listen to music time and again. The era of traditional radios has come and gone with Internet radio taking its place. Records, cassettes and CDs gave way to digital downloads, and now even the permanent purchase of music is dwindling as monthly subscriptions to digital music services, like Spotify and Pandora, take over the market. But where is music headed in the future? Here’s a look at what you can expect.

R&D

music-listeningResearch and development is always in the works, and Sony is one of the top companies in the music industry. Not only does it have its own record label, but Sony constantly seeks ways to improve the way you experience music.

At this year’s South by Southwest conference, Sony released a prototype and interactive demo of the project they call “N.” N may look like LG’s Tone Infinim wireless headset, but it boasts one distinct feature: voice command. While Sony provides the best sound technology on the market for noise-canceling headphones, the N can be activated with the phrase, “Listen up ark.” It’s also equipped with a GPS and has partnered with Strava, Accuweather and Yelp for added functionality.

This is just one project Sony has in development, there are more innovative music devices in development as well.

Streamed Music and Top 40

In 2014 the Top 40 singles list saw a change as streaming was counted in the determination of a song’s chart position. Up until then, the changes in chart position were determined on sales. Streamed music breaks this mold for obvious reasons. Not only do plays not necessarily constitute a sale, many streamed plays are from free accounts.

Record labels have begun to understand what many music listeners already know: Streaming is the present — and the future — of music listening. However, there are still obstacles for streaming music services. The most popular service, Spotify, has yet to turn profit; but this hasn’t stopped these kinds of services from innovative practices. In fact, there is a lot of talk about music services/internet radio that will tailor music played based on a listener’s heart rate, activity, preferences and library history.

Soundtrack Innovation

For years, soundtracks have been ubiquitous with movies. They add an atmosphere of mystery, fear or excitement. So why haven’t books utilized the use of soundtracks? If you ride public transportation, you’ll often see people with headphones in their ears and noses in books.

Mark Cameron, the co-founder and CEO of Booktracks, noticed this while on his daily commute and found himself compiling his own soundtracks for books he enjoyed. Now Booktracks has a vast library of books with read along soundtracks, and they aren’t the only ones. Hex Publishers, for instance, has announced a science fiction anthology accompanied with a soundtrack. Released as a bundle, the soundtrack, instead of DRM free ambient tracks, will feature artists such as Celldweller, Mega Drive and Scandroid. This hybridization of music and written word create an experience that benefits both book lovers and music aficionados.

We’ve seen the transition from records to tapes to CDs, from live radio to digital streaming. With technology evolving everyday, it’s exciting to see how music and the way we listen to it will also change.

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