Two interesting data points have popped up that are pointing towards a radical change in music acquisition and listening habits.
Crunch Gear has presented the idea that actual music ownership is headed for obsolescence. They argue that with the advent of ubiquitous, always-on fast internet and robust streaming music services, the need for having local copies of songs will become a thing of the past. Why have to pay for and store gigabytes of audio files when for a low monthly fee, you could (theoretically) have streaming access to all the world’s music at your fingertips?
As far-fetched as it sounds, this could easily be a plausible future scenario. Non-local, cloud based computing is becoming more of an everyday tool for many, and trusting the cloud to handle all your music needs does make sense. This is still probably a few years off though. As seen by ATT&T’s sluggish network congestion at SXSW, the current system is not quite ready to handle everyone streaming music at the same time. Or for that matter, what happens when your stream unexpectedly goes down?
Along these same lines, MusicThinkTank points out that internet searches for “Free Music, Free MP3s and File Sharing” have gone down (as seen in the graph above), and they predict this indicates file sharing is on the way out.