Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Future of Music and Libraries

A few weeks ago I was contemplating visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. While checking out their website I came across a neat list of what the curators there consider the top 500 most important songs in the history of Rock and Roll. I created a new playlist in iTunes of the songs that I already had. It's a fantastic playlist to listen to. Every song is a "classic". I was missing a bunch of the songs however. I would like to download some of the particular songs and all of this got me thinking...

Libraries are WAY behind the times when it comes to how to deliver music to their patrons. CDs are more and more becoming a thing of the past. While this is a generalization, it seems that almost everyone under the age of 20 downloads music from the internet. Furthermore, more and more people are interested in single songs and not entire CDs. For eBooks and Video there are tools available to libraries like My Media Mall. But as far as I know there is no music delivery service available at this time for libraries.

In large part I blame the record industry. They literally have NO idea how to deal with the way the world is changing because of the internet. They are grasping at straws, trying to stay afloat with old ideas, and suing everyone left and right for copyright infringement.

In a perfect world libraries should be able to digitize their collections and make them available to their patrons. Patrons should be able to browse a list of full CDs and individual songs and listen to what they like. The record companies don't see it that way however.

Perhaps libraries could do something like "watermark" songs and CDs? When the song is almost over a message would play over the end of the song saying something like "this CD/song was made available to you by the Chicago Public Library". Maybe patrons could stream music from library servers but not be able to download the actual files? Even streaming seems to violate ASCAP-BMI public performance clauses.

If CDs disappear what are libraries going to do then?

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