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Music forecast..

Music has over the last 60 years been a good predictor to future developments in society and business. Now its actually  pointing huge clues to the future of selling and distribution!!

But first to set the scene, some examples of what music has foretold :

  • Rock and Roll coming of out of the US south in the early 1950’s foretold the sexual revolution to come.
  • The Beatles were precursors  to the changes in society and western religion.
  • Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground’s 15 minutes of fame prediction is now actually happening in the various media platforms that proliferate our lives.
  • 15 years ago the first crowd sourcing finance activities started with rock music fans helping their favourite bands with the costs of recording their next album.

So what is music predicting for the selling and distribution of objects?

In the early part of this century, recorded music started to become a free product. MP3 catalogues of popular music proliferated on independent web sites. Suddenly our hard drives were full of rock, pop and dance music files that only 5 years previous would have cost a small fortune to own on CD. The media corporations were slow to respond and they lost control of the situation. Eventually the IT industry regained that control  through the hardware suppliers(Apple) and streaming services (Spotify). However, the cat was out of the bag, the end users did not want to pay; physical music content had limited or no value. Professional musicians’ revenue streams now come through live concerts not CD or LP’s; a complete reversal to the glory days of 70’s – 90’s classic rock, soul and pop.

This short history of MP3 music  is now a serious pointer to the future development of selling and distribution of hard goods. The selling revolution started a few years ago with the disappearance  of the music stores along with other hard goods retailers fighting to stay in the game from downloading and internet retailers like Amazon.  The actual distribution of objects  will provide an even more radical future through the 3D printing of stuff.  Like the arrival of MP3 music , the independent web Torrent sites are now starting to store and make freely available the 3D printing file shares to make your own toys, kitchen ware, decorations, car parts, knitwear, machine components and the sinister guns etc!!  It’s not happening on a large scale just yet, but domestic 3D printers are available in niche electrical retailers and some local mass production 3D print workshops are starting to appear.

Originally selling and distribution of hard good’s objects was solely through the high street, now its also through daily home delivery by a white van and soon it could be on a printer near you!  It may not always be a total 3D printed product, it could be a combination of sources; eg apparel and home textile printing on blank garments/fabric and componentry/small parts printed at home for use with specifically cut and drilled laminated/wood panels ordered and then delivered by a driverless vehicle!

Like any forecast, this is a good guess, I am not that clever to be certain that 3D printing will be a success on a mass scale in the home or in small local production units. But it will be interesting to conjecture on this and the consequences for the whole Supply Chain around the world. That is something I leave for another article or for you dear reader to comment on.


Every industry that produces and sells objects will soon be put into the same place as the music business of 15 years ago. Does industry and business understand  the extent of what is going to happen?  It is coming! The unknown bit is the scale of its implementation..

This article has been inspired by a 40 year old academic book called Noise by the French author Jacque Attali. In this book he  predicted back in 1975 what actually happened to music ! Today Attali concludes that all objects are going the same way, where there is very little scarcity.  Any music or book can now be downloaded so they are no longer scarce, consequently their value has dropped considerably.   The idea of something  being scarce is now actually for most people –  time.. We have all the objects we need, but we are always short on time.  Again music  exemplifies this perfectly; we will not pay £4.00 for a CD  (we can access it whenever we want in a free for all buffet) but we will pay £60 to use our valuable time and watch artists play music in concert at a  huge arena with a light show providing a fantastic and memorable experience!

So in the very near future will your customers pay for stuff from China and India? Why bother when they can download it  and save money to enjoy something for that most valuable and now most scarce of commodities – time..

Mark K.Astley