With talk of the cloud, streams, special proprietary devices that pipe vendor-specific sounds to particular home stereos, intelligent, always-on access to entire music collections, tablets and set-top boxes and … all of that … it can be tough to look into the future of music and audio. I spent the last weekend at Project Bar-B-Q, a mind-bending retreat of audio tech industry sages and engineers, on a team that looked at the issue. It’s not time yet to share those discussions, but as we face the dizzying array of possibilities ahead, this one quote stands out, pointed to me by someone in my BBQ group.
The article is from June, but as “cloud music” talk heats up, it’s worth pasting to your wall. The ever-insightful Sasha Frere-Jones writes for The New Yorker
…the near future of listening to music looks a lot like 1960. People will listen, for free, to music that comes out of a stationary box that sits indoors. They’ll listen to music that comes from an object that fits in the hand, and they’ll listen to music in the car.
Full story: You, the D.J.: Online music moves to the cloud.
I think a corollary is that, even with the big box playing music for free, people will want to own a collection of music and own things they take around with them, alongside the free things. Exactly where that line falls and in what way remains the sticking point.
But why stop at music listening, or even music creation? The idea above could lend perspective to any conversation about design and technology. The dimensions of the virtual, digital universe and its possibilities are indeterminate and difficult to conceive. But the dimensions of human beings are not.