The future of the music".er, real estate business

Rolling Stone just ran a special report on the decline of the music business. As you read the excerpts below – various “theories” on the future of music – imagine they are directed at real estate. Substitute songs for listings, MLS and Brokers for Labels. Consumers for …Consumers.

Theory 1: Ad-Supported Music – Ian Rogers: Yahoo! Music General Manager

“All music will be free – paid for by ads – and any song by any artist will be accessible from anywhere in the world. Imagine a future where you just consume a hell of a lot of music – just hit ‘play’ on any player, and hear music. There’s an ad experience there, and we’ll pay the labels a percentage of that ad revenue.”

Theory 2: Peer-to-Peer Goes Legit – Eric Garland, CEO of digital-music research firm Big Champagne

“People will pay a monthly surcharge on their cable bill to download an unlimited supply of tunes. Tens of billions of songs are downloaded for free by people all over the world, representing a huge market – not in changing their behavior, but in creating businesses around that fact.”

Theory 3: Labels Change Their Stripes – Rob Glaser, Head of Real Networks and Rhapsody

“I predict that labels will operate more as managers, earning most of their profits from licensing, touring, and merchandise. The notion of a company that is only in the business of selling recorded music is an artifact of the physical world. In the next year or two, as physical growth continues to lag, the labels’ pain will just get so great, they’ll move to a more rational approach.”

Theory 4: Consumers Become Retailers – Terry McBride, Founder and CEO of Network Music Group

Social networking will be integrated with commerce. We’ll be looking at a space where the consumer is the retailer. Within a text message, an email or an IM, I can say, ‘Listen to the new Avril single,’ you click on her name, you hear it, you like it, you hit pound-four, and you instantly bought it, but you bought it from me.”

I believe that the equivalents of these great thinkers exist inside real estate. Some are running real estate companies. Others work inside of associations. But most are outside the industry steering the sails of the web companies. Traditional Real Estate will not emerge victorious in the battle for the consumer unless it seriously embraces these thinkers, rather than silently wishing for their demise.

– Davison