is it 3.0 yet?

In a blog post by Albert Wenger entitled A Coming Paradigm Shift in (Online) Music?, he asks what spurs “runs” of new ideas in science, and identifies advances in technology as one contributor. When these advances happen “new observations can be made which in some cases don’t fit with the existing scientific paradigm, ultimately shattering that paradigm and replacing it with a new one. During such periods of transition runs of ideas are likely to occur.

Albert then looks at current runs of new ideas in the context of changes in the music industry.

First, there is a new technology: Internet distribution. The vast initial activity is in using this technology within the existing business paradigm, in particular selling music (essentially same as selling physical media) or ad-supported (essentially same as radio). Apart from a few successes (notably Apple with iTunes), most online music startups fall in one of two categories: illegal or unprofitable.

Then, however, there are new experiments that may portend a different paradigm. In music, there are at least three services that take quite new approaches. First, there is FreshHotRadio which provides a super simple and streamlined experience for listening to free music sourced from around the web. By free, I mean music with licenses that are sufficiently permissive to let them be included in FreshHotRadio. Then there is the TheSixtyOne, which is based on user submitted music that gives TheSixtyOne the ability to play the music as it sees fit and again without paying a fee. This allows the TheSixtyOne to overlay game dynamics on the listening experience (e.g., you get reputation points for discovering songs). In both of these cases, a fundamental premise of the old paradigm is discarded: that online distribution must be based on a paid license. There is a third experiment that is discarding a different premise: the RjDj app for the iphone. Here the premise that is discarded is that music is a passive listening experience in which a song is the same each time it is played. Instead, when you run the RjDj app you get “scenes” which play differently each time based on your interaction with them via external sounds, touching and moving the phone.

So let’s characterize a music 3.0 app as one which is neither easy to sue nor hopelessly unprofitable. Calling it “music 3.0” distinguishes it from the the music 2.0 generation that occurred during the web 2.0 phase, with major music 2.0 apps being Last.fm, Webjay, imeem, Project Playlist, Hype Machine, and maybe Myspace.

Is this really a distinct generation? Are we are really on a new round? Is it fair to say that the new generation is building on the last one, so that (e.g.) RjDj is a successor to (e.g.) Hype Machine?