I have been thinking a lot recently about where music business may be headed. Recent reviews in audiophile mags raving about the iPod and today's Wall Street Journal story on the retailers getting squeezed have led me to think where the world is headed. Here is my personal view of the future of music: 1. Niche Heaven - I see many audio segments developing even more specialty niches. I see mass market popular music splitting into many niches of musical tastes, and I see audiophiles having a 2-channel option, and home theater fans maybe having a video based option. 2. More Resolution Please - I think that high resolution in either Super Audio or DVD Audio form is here to stay. Whether one believes it can widen or will be just a loyal laserdisc-like following is hard to gauge and anyway we don't want to discuss any format wars. The idea here is that there are some more vocal, more rabid music fans who DO want to hear their music in the best possible fidelity. 3. MP3 Mass Market Mania - I think the cat was let out of the bag a long time ago so the RIAA should spend its attorney's fees on building a massive iTunes instead of suing 12 year old girls. The consumer convenience of choosing their own songs and carrying them anywhere is too tempting for most of America, even if they have to pay. Downloads are not going away and the idiots running the music companies should "face the music" as soon as possible. 4. iPod of the Future - In the future, one will be able to pay more for better fidelity. iPods will have tremendous storage space and be able to handle hirez music from both SACD and DVDA. Record labels will charge more, of course, but many will pay for the extra fidelity as remasterings improve sonics and gear gets better chip decoding. This may still be limited to just a portion of one's collection and the rest is at 128 or 256k, but the labels may still profit from the premium charged. 5. Local Artists Thrive - More portable audio will allow local artists to have a cheaper path to sales by leveraging the web. I am concerned that there may be a period of time where the specialty retailers cut back severely on independent but high quality jazz and classical and only focus on big sellers due to the profit margin squeeze. I hope it does not happen. 6. Specialty Retailers Consolidate - I think more and more specialty record stores will struggle. Many have too much debt (from acquisitions and bad management) and the squeeze on profit margins will hurt them. The only winners will be the Best Buys and Circuit Citys that have better margins on electronic items; they will keep music as a big draw for foot traffic however. 7. Audio and Computer Convergence - High end companies will prosper by remaining small and serving the audiophile and home theater niches. The big change, however, will be that computer copmanies like Dell and others will enter the market and start offering additional devices like iPod-like playback and new "media storage" boxes. Consumer electronics copmanies will have a disadvantage in keeping up since it is about digital storage. Maybe some alliances between audio and computer firms will result. Well, that's my take. What do you think? What do you see happening differently and why?