In 2005 ‘The Value Chain Dynamics Working Group (VCDWG), at MIT Communications Futures Program’  published a paper by Natalie Klym which laid out a very well balanced and insightful vision of the future landscape for digital Music. This was around the time that we first conceived of the idea of an ‘Independent Digital Music Market’ and so the paper was very instrumental in our early thinking and planning. At the time, iTunes had already started to become the dominant force in legal downloads, but was still eclipsed by the much larger phenomenon of P2P music file sharing.This was before Google and Amazon had begun to build their competitive services to iTunes, and before the Record Labels had started investing in ‘streaming music’ services like Spotify, in a bid to get people to rent music rather than ‘steal’ it, (so called ‘Piracy’) or even buy it. The conclusion to the paper, on Page 20 makes for interesting reading:   “…it is likely that file sharing will continue, in one form or another. While much of this will comprise illegal activity, there is third trajectory for innovation (besides legal and illegal downloading), which is pushing for alternative licensing and compensation systems — a new legal environment suited to digital distribution — that could leverage the deeply established and growing practice of file sharing rather than stifle it. Given that digital music distribution arguably makes a greater selection of music available than the traditional star system, distributed methods for music promotion and discovery will be needed, which is one thing social networks are good for. A distributed, grass roots music industry opens up a whole new world of potential business models, but this scenario is further down the road and outside the scope of this paper.”  – [Link to PDF] “a distributed grass roots music industry” It was indeed further down the road. Traditionally there has been a long standing problem with the Web, and that has been that its inherent centralised data-serving logic ‘punishes the popular’. To explain this idea… the more that people download something from a particular server, the higher the bandwidth costs for the provider of that file. P2P file sharing began to dramatically change this situation by distributing the provision of files across numerous peers at the edges of the internet. Bittorrent in particular took this technology even further by allowing downloaders of a file to begin to upload parts of that file before they even had the complete file. This meant that the more users that are downloading the file, the faster that file will be to download and the cheaper it will be for all those who are providing the file. But the problem with unregulated P2P networks is that they...