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"In the 2010s musicians can look forward to working harder for smaller payoffs. They’re resuming...their age-old role as troubadours, touring more frequently to make up for disappearing album sales."
——Jon Pareles, in the N.Y. Times

IT’S A NEW DECADE—NOW WHAT?

We’re So Over the 2000s, the Oughts, the Noughties... Whatever You Called Them, They Sucked. This Year Is Pronounced "Twenty-Ten"; Let’s Get It Started
What will the new year—and the new decade—bring to the increasingly interrelated worlds of music and technology? How the hell should we know? We need Google Maps to find the little boys’ room. Fortunately, there are others out there in cyberspace who are far better prepared to offer their opinions on the future. Unfortunately, none of them comes close to suggesting it’ll be so bright we’ll have to wear shades. Here’s a sampling of the fearless forecasts we’ve stumbled upon…

From A World of Megabeats and Megabytes by N.Y. Times Music Critic Jon Pareles:
For artists of all kinds (with musicians on the front lines) a 21st-century habitat of possibilities and pressures is taking shape—one that demands skills their predecessors forgot or never needed. The art they make can be created, as well as disseminated, faster and more cheaply. But it will also face exponentially more rivals for attention, and many more temptations toward superficiality and sellouts…

In the 2010s musicians can look forward to working harder for smaller payoffs. They’re resuming—if they ever really left it behind—their age-old role as troubadours, touring more frequently to make up for disappearing album sales. (Big stars with expiring contracts went independent instead of renewing their major-label commitments, or set up so-called “360 deals” that depend as much on touring and merchandising as on selling albums.)

There are newer demands on them as well: interacting with fans who never had to accept the top-down, broadcast model of the old music business and have come to expect the individualized tone of the Internet. To perform offstage musicians now hone social-networking skills: mastering the blog post, the semi-candid photo, the not too overtly promotional self-promotion, the guarded personal revelation, the clever Tweet. Those with true star ambitions will also have to manage the meta-careers that a little bit of fame now entails, knowing that any time they show their face in public, it can turn up on a photo blog, any interview can be cross-referenced forever, any live performances or television moment might show up on YouTube. The smart ones, like Lady Gaga, already have their costume changes planned.

Musicians and their managers will also be improvising their own routes amid a wilderness of marketing and career strategies. They’re experimenting with what an album is now worth, like Radiohead’s pay-what-you-will album in 2007, In Rainbows, or Nine Inch Nails’ 2008 spectrum from luxury (an elaborate limited-edition $300 package of Ghosts I-IV, which sold out instantly) to free (digital versions of half of Ghosts and then all of The Slip). But those aren’t baby bands who had to do it themselves from the start. Newer acts may well be cottage industries—in wired cottages—for life…

From Apple Tablet Rumors: The Ultimate Guide To 'iTablet' Talk, on The Huffington Post:
No company feeds off mystery more than Apple. Notorious for being tight-lipped about its announcements and developments, the Cupertino-based company has neither confirmed nor denied the possibility of an Apple-made "tablet" computer device. Of course, that hasn't stopped the gossip, rumors, and wild speculation regarding the launch, cost and features of the much-hyped fabled device…

According to anonymous sources and tech-industry analysts, the Apple Tablet is likely to be a device with high-definition video that's "better than the average movie experience," offering a touchscreen, a full-color e-book reader, iPhone app-capabilities, Internet browsing and video conferencing. It's been described, speculatively, as "a cross between a laptop and an iPhone or iPod Touch."… It's been speculated the tablet will have a 10.1-inch multi-touch screen, (with whispers of a 7" model, as well), and might have either an LCD or an OLED screen… A source says that app developers have been told to prepare their apps for a Tablet demo. AllThingsD reports book publishers have been approached to put their material on the Tablet… Although Diggination called the Tablet "shockingly inexpensive," most estimates have pegged the Tablet's pricetag at around $1,000. A Barron's analyst predicted a $699-$799 Tablet, whereas an Oppenheimer analyst guessed it would be $1,000, and Digitimes estimated it would cost around $1,200-$1,500…

From Don't Fear the 2010s by the Wall Street Journal’s Nick Gillespie:
A new Zogby poll reports that about one-third of Americans "believed there would be greater technological advances by 2010." Who isn't disappointed by the lack of jetpacks and doggie treadmills like on The Jetsons? The iPhone came out like three years ago and there hasn't been anything else invented since then, right?

When we're not complaining that the rate of innovation is so fast that it's causing future shock, we like to complain that it's been years since anything radically new has rocked our world. Sure, the Clapper was promising, but it utterly failed to usher in an age of smart appliances that would do our bidding without even being asked. The contraptions in SkyMall magazine run decidedly more toward hot-dog-and-bun toasters than something as futuristic as, say, an airport-screening device that actually works. Given that the first big jump to the Internet, networked computers and e-commerce started more than a decade ago, we're perfectly poised for a perennially recurring panic that we're in a new Dark Ages and that the major innovation necessary to pull us out of our current recession is never going to happen…

From the N.Y. Times column Tech Bits by Jenna Wortham:
Close to a quarter of households in the United States rely exclusively on mobile phones, according to a recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics. And as sad as it is to realize your parents are disconnecting the only phone number you still have memorized, that figure is expected to rapidly grow as more Americans turn to Internet-based telephony and wireless carriers offer more competitive pricing for unlimited calling plans...

As my colleague Nick Bilton pointed out a few weeks ago, ditching the set-top box and watching TV online is little more than a few clicks away. But while his set-up was admittedly more complicated than simply connecting your laptop to a big screen, it will get easier in 2010. In addition to start-ups like Clicker and SetJam aiming to make it easier to find what you want to watch online, Apple may even start peddling a monthly subscription service that would allow television companies to deliver TV programs via its multimedia software. Companies are getting into the game with services like Comcast on Demand Online that allow customers to watch thousands of TV episodes and some movies via their Web browsers.

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ADELE ADELE ADELE
Adele; Adele Adele?
ADELE ADELE ADELE ADELE ADELE ADELE
A... dele?
ADELE ADELE
Adele Adele; Adele.
ADELE ADELE ADELE ADELE
(Adele.)
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