Predicting the Future of Music: How right were they?

In 2005 Kusek & Leonhard predicted how the future of music would develop in ‘The Future of Music: Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution’. 7 years later, lets look at how accurate their predictions were.

“Imagine where music flows around us, like electricity, a utility”

Still in the days where buying CDs were the norm, Kusek & Leonhard predicted that one day we could listen to music like we receive our water or electricity; an unlimited stream of music available to us wirelessly in exchange for a yearly fee. No CDs. No physical product. No ownership.

As the amount we pay for electricity in the UK depends on how much we use, this idea of music-streaming, available to us 24/7 is better understood in the same way as our TV license works; pay it for the year and watch (listen to) as much as you’d like.

“Advertising making it free”

Kusek & Leonhard discussed how such a music service could work in a different way too, linking it with advertising to make the service free for the user. This idea was borrowed from how American TV works. American TV is free to watch but adverts are displayed to the viewer between programmes.


“Could it be that a few years down the road I will be able to listen to music on a digital network if I also accept some advertising?”

The two methods outlined above can be seen as today’s Spotify, the 24/7 streaming service.

1. Spotify Unlimited – the unlimited stream of music for a Monthly fee – the utility/ TV license inspired idea.

2. Spotify Free – the unlimited stream of music for Free but Ads are displayed – the advertising inspired idea


Another one of Kusek & Leonhard’s main predictions was how a music streaming service like Spotify would come alive on a mobile-basis too:

“There is no doubt that, due to the nature of people’s music consumption habits, mobility is the major driver behind the latest developments. Clearly the future of music belongs to truly mobile products and services: anything, anytime, anywhere.”

Devices that are always on, updated in real time, suggesting new music to the user and being able to share music with friends – this is today’s Spotify premium and the third part of the jigsaw with Kusek & Leonhard’s predictions for today’s Spotify.

Spotify’s 3 models as of August 2012: 

I could have explained this earlier, Kusek & Leonhard are established members of Berklee College of Music in California and have strong interests in the future of music and the business from their professions. Reading through the book, even seven years ahead, there is a remarkable confidence behind their ideas and a great no-nonsense analysis of the music business at the time.

Predicting the exact ideas that make up all three versions of today’s Spotify in 2005 is a fair feat especially back in the day where £13.99 CDs were still centre stage.

Linking to this, one of the biggest things I noticed reading through the book is the amount of great deja-vu moments it gives you if you’re familiar with the present day reincarnations of Kusek & Leonhards ideas – particularly Spotify, Netflix, Xbox live and several, several more. It’s the level of detail they go into that makes you flick to the back page just to double-check the publication date.

Although I could tell you a lot of the other stuff they got right too, a single blog post on this great book cannot do it justice.

Get it yourself here:

Hope you liked this post and if you get a chance please check out the author’s guitar channel for all things guitars and effects pedals:



About ajseager7

Music, Marketing and Design
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