The future of the music industry is discovery

As services from Microsoft and Apple gain enthusiasts like those of Pandora and Last.fm, the next big thing for music producers will be helping consumers find more to, well, consume.

The Wall Street Journal's "Mossberg Solution" yesterday looked into two new music discovery services from Apple's iTunes and Microsoft's Zune. The verdict went Microsoft's way, but the real winner in the services will be the music industry.

What should have been blindingly obvious before, what with Pandora, Last.fm, and other music discovery services helping consumers find music to love, was that the future of the music industry is discovery. Now that Apple has made it easy to purchase music, the next step for making a big industry even bigger is to help consumers find new products to consume.

The old model--expensive promotions through brick-and-mortar retailers and radio play--is giving way to instant gratification online, and I'm willing to bet that it's going to pay huge dividends.

As just one example, yesterday I upgraded my iTunes to version 8, which provided me with Apple's new Genius music discovery service. A day later, I've already bought an additional $15 worth of music--including songs from The Pixies, The Decemberists, and others.

iTunes' "Genius" in music discovery Matt Asay

Now that Universal and other music titans have discovered that digital downloads can pay off in industry growth, it's time to hypercharge that growth with efficient, online music discovery.

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