So what's the next step? You know there will be one. There always is a next step. That's part of what makes us human, the desire to improve things, even if those things aren't really much of an improvement; sorry DVD-Audio, you were a good idea, but not really worth buying new versions of everything again.
That's the catch there. Whatever the new medium is, it has to be worth re-purchasing the music. Or, in the case of iTunes and the like, at least be able to transfer your existing library into the new medium and then go from there. That's why the digital, computer based, music has worked out so well. Sure, it doesn't sound as good as the original CD's (unless you use a lossless format) but at least you didn't have to buy the 300 CD's you have over again.
I've been thinking about this a while and the only thing I can think of right now is some kind of direct input to the brain, or at least to the ear. I guess it would be a long time for scientists to figure out how to bypass the ears and go right to the part of the brain that processes sound, but won't it be great when that happens? Imagine every album sounding like you are there during the recording. Sure, every new type of media that comes out likes to say that listening to their new doodad will put you there with the band, but it never quite will. Don't buy into it. There is always going to be something lost in the translation whether it is in the recording process, or the playback on your equipment.
Now think about music going right into your brain and other stimuli added as well. Why not add odors? You'd be able to smell the sweat of the drummer, or the massive amounts of hair spry from those 80's hair band albums you like. It's okay to admit it, I won't judge you. Or maybe the smell of the studio, or a concert hall, or something. I don't know, I'm making this part up as I go along. But, hey, if this is shot right into the brain why not add other stimuli to make it all that more realistic?
The question is, how do you get it into the brain? You could use a BrainPal type device that was used in John Scalzi's Old Man's War novels. But, maybe there could be a way to go right into the brain to avoid using some type of electronic device? There would be less chance of signal degradation, right? The signal, and thus the sonic quality, would be that much more pure. I think this is the only way you could actually feel like you are there with the band. And, while we are at it, why not tap into the visual cortex and get some visuals in there as well. Either of some type of stoner Pink Floyd-ish light show, or video of the band playing. Hey, you'd always have front row seats!
So that's what I think should come next. Somebody get working on it, and make sure to credit me. Ten percent is all I ask.