Digital music in the IoT era

By Micka?l Delcroix, OVH.

Back in the 90’s, I used to play my bass in my bedroom and dreamed of replacing the Foo Fighters’ Nate Mendel and headlining at festivals such as Glastonbury, Reading or Leeds. I wanted to be part of influential bands. My teenage kit consisted of a Music Man copy and a good 100 watt amp that was strong enough to shake my parents’ house.

I am now in my late twenties and I’ve seen a tremendous change in the music industry. MP3s and the very first iPod replaced the good old CD. Whereas before, you were advised to create a MySpace personal account to follow your favourite artist, now I’d be here all day if I were to reel off the countless online music applications that are now out there, but it is worth noting that new technologies have helped the music industry to loosen up: it has now become social, viral and digital. The industry has changed so much in the last 20 years, I can’t imagine what it will look like in the next ten and things are now moving faster than ever.

To use an analogy, IoT is becoming music to our ears, and when I hear this phrase I am as excited as I am when one of my favourite bands is releasing a new album. According to Cisco[1], there are 14.8 billion IoT devices at the moment and this will increase to around 50 billion by 2020. This is bound to have a profound impact on the sector.

The music industry has its own astronomic figure: Its contribution to the UK economy was ?4.1 Billion in 2014[2].

Music, as an art form is becoming more dominated by digital technology and there is room for musicians, producers and any businesses involved in this sector to use technology to show off creativity.

It will probably take some time, but I believe that IoT and big data will fundamentally change the way people experience live events and we are already seeing great examples of this. The festival season is around the corner and it is likely that festival-goers will all be equipped with radio frequency identification wristbands so that they can use cashless payments. Promoters can then learn from the data collected and make their festivals better, perhaps by analysing the flow of people and seeing which bars work better and why.

I am an old school musician, but even I find the idea of sticking a sensor to an instrument pretty exciting. Just take a look at the first smart guitars[3]. These instruments let you add infinite modulations and effects to your music, stream and jam with a friend from afar, listen to what you just played and then immediately share your performances online. All this makes the pleasure of playing music go that bit further but also means we will be adding to the vast amounts of data created by IoT.

The Internet of things will massively increase the amount of data out there, not just created by music but by homes, factories and even cars. Cisco estimates that there will be 403 zettabytes (1 zettabyte is the equivalent of 1 trillion gigabytes) of data by 2018, all stored in the Cloud of course.[4]

When we talk about IoT we often mention the challenges that we have to face, but being a positive person, I prefer to mention the great enhancements that we will see.

-Skills: new technologies equal new skills. The (already huge) DevOps demand will be even higher

-Security: we will be more and more careful about privacy and will see a bigger focus on securing critical infrastructure

-Network: with an estimated 403 zettabytes of data travelling on the network, providers better be ready to put their infrastructure on steroids. For example, we never stop expanding the capacity of our fibre network which now operates at 5.5 Tbps

-Analytics: how will we process all this data? Innovative services will be created, like the IoT PaaS TimeSeries platform developed by OVH

The Internet of Things is a very exciting and will definitely shape the way we experience music. We tend to view human beings and technology as being on two opposing sides, and to me music is on the human side. But in this instance I believe that human beings can use IoT technology to their advantage to take music to a whole new level. Both Music and technology have endless potential and if we can successfully combine the two, the results are sure to be fascinating.


[4] See the Cisco Global Cloud report 2013 - 2018

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