• Libr 200: Blog Book Review

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    The Future of Music by David Kusek and Gerd Leonhard is a must-read for any music lover who’s ever worried about the fate of his/her beloved art form. So often in recent years we’ve heard that the music industry is dying, with the collapse of the leading record stores (Tower, Virgin, etc.) and decline of CD sales cited as proof, and the phenomenon of digital distribution is blamed. But Kusek and Leonhard offer a much more optimistic viewpoint. They argue that while yes, the record industry is dying, the music industry is alive and well. The record industry, they claim, relies on an outdated top-down business model and copyright laws that chiefly benefit the record labels, not the musicians, and certainly not customers who have to pay for overpriced CDs. The music industry’s future, they argue, lies in digital distribution. Copyright laws will change, file sharing won’t be criminalized, consumers will be increasingly able to access music of their choice at little cost, and more new artists than ever will be exposed to the public and launch their careers without needing millions from a major label first. Music will become “like water; ubiquitous and free-flowing” (Kusek and Leonard, 2005, p. 3).


    What these changes to the music industry will mean for music librarians, I don’t know. Music libraries will obviously rely more heavily on digital reserves, as they already increasingly do. While I doubt their collections of vinyl and CDs will ever be irrelevant (particularly since copyright issues and other factors will keep certain recordings from ever becoming available digitally), they’ll presumably become increasingly less important as the demand for digital music increases and the libraries rely ever more on computers and software. But regardless of how libraries are effected, it’s reassuring to read a counter-argument to claims that the music industry is doomed. According to this book, the industry’s format is simply changing, as systems that distribute information always change over time.



    Kusek, D., & Leonhard, G. (2005). The future of music: Manifesto for the digital music revolution. Boston, MA: Berklee Press.

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