Music Dial Tone
Venture capitalist Fred Wilson cofounded Flatiron Partners, one of the spark plugs for New York’s late-1990s “Silicon Alley.” Now a partner in Union Square Ventures, he blogs on venture capital and new media.
How do you see the future of music shaping up?
All the pieces are basically there for what I call “music dial tone.” Once it’s all together, for less than $5 a month, you’ll have access to the entire library of recorded music, from any place and any time. By the end of this decade, it will be the dominant way people consume music.
What’s the revolution?
The revolution is the business model. Most telecom services now charge a flat fee per month. When music goes this way too, consumers will start to expect all media to be delivered this way. TV and film–other than first-run movies in the theaters–will be next.
You’ve got an investment in high-definition radio–why will anyone want that?
My iPod has been an eye-opening experience. I have thousands of songs on it, but I am listening mostly to podcasts [homemade, downloadable, MP3-format radio programs]. Why? Because I want someone to program my iPod. When we have music dial tone, we will still want someone to program it for us. That’s what radio does. Radio execs already understand this. They just need us to build the digital platform–and by that I mean music dial tone–and they’ll provide the programming and monetize it. – By Spencer Reiss