Hearing is believing: how 5G could take music to a new level.

Mobile-recorded music has gone from all but non-existent to all-pervasive in a matter of about forty years. From cassettes, to CDs, to MP3s, to streaming audio and video, we’ve enjoyed a steady progression toward more sophisticated devices and delivery systems. As it stands today, we can stream music, movies, television, videos, podcasts and more — virtually anything, anywhere, anytime we want it. End of story, right?

Not exactly. In his interview with iHeart Radio’s The Restless Ones podcast, sponsored by T-Mobile for Business, CIO of Universal Music Group (UMG), Dan Morales, believes we’re just getting started. He’s been a leader in tech and business for many years at companies as diverse as Continental Airlines, Bank of America, and eBay. And now he’s bringing his expertise—and his vision of the future—to the entertainment industry.

How to carry a tune

Today’s digital entertainment platforms have come a long way. But while they do provide convenience and selection, quality has been a necessary compromise. The industry had to find ways to reduce the size of the files it was sending consumers. As Morales points out, “It was all about getting the best compression, because bandwidth was always the issue. We used to think of music as MP3s because that’s how it’s been compressed down.”

Of course, compression means something is left out. For audiophiles (and cinephiles), the full experience is diminished. But 5G technology provides such a wide range of bandwidth, compression won’t be necessary in the future.

“Look where the world's going with augmented reality and virtual reality, and video plus music. 5G helps enable all those technologies coming together, and it just becomes limitless on what we can deliver. We can bring just amazing experiences to our audiences around the world.”

Dan Morales, Chief Information Officer, Universal Music Group

Music streaming that knows what resonates

After years of compressed music files and streams, many of us have gotten used to “good enough” quality, and may never listen to hard media like CDs or vinyl albums. But today, we have the potential to get complex, richly-detailed audio—for instance, on your phone as you’re walking your dog. In this sense, the future of 5G coupled with advancing audio technology will be a game-changer.  

Lifting the limits on how much information can be delivered will have an impact both on the way music is produced and in the way we will listen to it. UMG is partnering with Amazon who has announced a high-def version of its music service based on Dolby Atmos technology. To take advantage of it, audio experts must re-engineer the original elements of a recording in new ways to produce incredible customizable experiences. Morales foresees a future where the digital music streaming to your car will adapt itself to your vehicle’s sound system and acoustics, and deliver playback that surrounds you with an optimal listening experience.

Songs in the key of 5G

Getting high-definition music and video on demand where you are is just a small part of the revolution. The promise of 5G’s capacity to move vast amounts of data with little latency has big implications for the future of medicine, transportation, logistics, and economics. But even keeping the focus on music, there are exciting new possibilities in the future.  

Imagine a smart app that uses enhanced connectivity to determine whether you’re in your car, in a plane, in your office, or at home, and seamlessly deliver the content you want while tailoring the experience to your surroundings. 

This won’t just unleash the latest music. Morales points to a mix of existing content that could potentially be accessed and delivered to you nearly instantly.

“There's so much stuff sitting in repositories all around the world, that's not just music. Pick your favorite artists, and you think about, all right, what do they have that I wanted to get to? It could be their interviews, it could be videos, it could be just all this stuff surrounding their life that a mega fan will want access to.”

Dan Morales, Chief Information Officer, Universal Music Group
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