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What a Year It Will Be

I don’t think I’ve ever done this before, but here goes my predictions for 2010. Some are educated guesses, some are wistful thinking, some are a combo of the two:

A major concert club in the area will close down; two more will open. And that’s not including the new Club Helsinki in Hudson, which is gonna rock your plimsoul—whatever the hell a plimsoul is.

The U.S. trade envoy will announce the signing of a sweeping international intellectual trade agreement that is horrendously biased toward Big Media, and puts the screws to both developing nations and personal privacy. A major populist movement will result in Congress nuking the whole thing, despite a strong push for passage by the Obama administration.

At least two, and as many as five, local musical acts will break out and have stunning international success. Major music blogs and magazines will take notice of the Albany scene, with major articles about just how freakin’ cool things are in Albany and Troy. This will result in even more local musicians being positioned to break in 2011. 2010 will be seen as the golden age of local music.

With pushes from federal, state and local governments, broadband Internet will become near-universal and free municipal Wi-Fi will spread like wildfire.

CD sales will go from plummeting to crashing; several major chain stores will stop selling CDs entirely. Sales of digital downloads will stay flat.

Facebook will not start charging users $4.99 a month for crying out loud.

There will be a new generation of eBook readers that are markedly better than the good ones that came out last year. The price point for them will drop to around $100, and you’ll be able to get one free if you commit to buying two books a month. And you will.

MySpace will unveil a new look, a new backbone, better interfaces, the whole shebang. In the trasition, lots of people’s stuff will get dumped and lost, and everyone will be all PO’d for a couple of weeks. Then people will come back and MySpace will be bigger than ever.

If the above MySpace thingee doesn’t happen, a new music/social networking player will emerge that will blow MySpace out of the water.

Talent competitions will become a permanent staple of the local entertainment scene. And they’ll be really good. In a related development, karaoke will see a huge resurgence in the local club scene, driven by hipster parties at bowling alleys. Really. Open mic nights will continue to grow.

iPhone users will be offered unlimited streaming of the entire iTunes library; every other cellular provider will scramble to catch up. Spotify will launch in an alliance with a major cellular carrier or ISP and will immediately grab major market share, even for iPhone users. All of this will contribute to the Apple/AT&T marriage going south.

Vinyl record and turntable sales will continue to grow at an increasing rate.

Online bootlegging of music will grow as a result of major bands signing exclusive distribution deals with various retailers and subscription services. People will revolt, get the music any way they can, and the whole exclusive deal thing will fade as a result.

A major new outdoor music festival player will emerge in the area, with a couple of weekend-long summer shows that will amaze you.

Aided by legislation and cheap technology, low-power community radio will explode, and you’ll have a couple of new local radio stations that will offer you the opportunity to go on the air. You’ll dig it.

There will be a major court ruling that all but negates the fair use doctrine of copyright law. Artists will revolt and great new appropriation art will be produced in protest that will be some of the most compelling and popular works we’ve seen in decades. Congress will hold hearings that won’t be dominated by industry players.

Shepard Fairey will fade into obscurity.

Newpapers will continue to shrink and fail, their attempts to charge people for online access and to block aggregators (like Google) will go down in flames but fast. Scrappy new independent local online news companies that post photos, text and videos continuously will become the dominant new force in local news reporting, and will drain the remaining ad revenue from traditional outlets.

More major music artists will break from major labels and decide to go it alone. Several huge classic rock bands will successfully reclaim the copyrights to their late ’70s recordings, and the labels’ attempts to block this in the courts will fail. As a result, the majors will stop looking so major.

More music will be created, recorded, released and enjoyed in 2010 than in any year in human history.

Happy New Year.

—Paul Rapp

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