It’s only a matter of time before CD’s and Vinyl go the way of the dodo. The digital age of the late 90’s and early aughts stifled their prevalence with file sharing and leaks. The ‘ol girls haven’t been the same since as physical media sales dropped almost every year since the early aughts. Digital sales have soared in the same time frame but one has to wonder if its prevalence has legs or is merely enjoying its honeymoon phase.
One has to look at the current number as well as potential growth of ISP subscribers before gauging the success of an all digital music industry. eMarketer’s findings suggests about 71% of the US has online access via home computer or handset and the number is projected to grow to 77% in 2014. Meanwhile, nearly 30% of the world has internet access through the aforementioned means according to phys.org. The information suggestions approximately 2 Billion people across the globe can readily log on at home and/or on the move via mobile device. Of course they’re all not current or potential digital music consumers. Nevertheless, it’s a huge buying pool to consider as physical sales shrink.
Then you go back to reality and realize things aren’t as peachy. NY Times states record label’s revenue from digital music sales haven’t stacked up to years past. They’re still seeing yearly increases but the increments shorten annually; suggesting an ominous trend. The article mentions piracy and its lax regulation continues to play a role in stifling digital sales’ advancement. There’s no argument here. I already stated many find little point in buying something they can get for free without facing considerable threat for legal repercussions.
Tomorrow’s digital music sales, should things persist, forecast dangerously resembles present day’s rut with CD sales. The obvious solution suggests governments worldwide to make a more concerted effort to penalize copyright infringement. It’s easier said than done, especially when you use our nation as an example, since there are laws working in the creative sector’s favor yet simply aren’t enforced on a wide scale.
Burgeoning money making opportunities like streaming cloud-based initiatives from Amazon, Google and Apple will yield more revenue streams. Music streaming isn’t exactly a cash cow and the music cloud business model is still in its beginning phases. Moreover, they both have problematic issues ahead with ISP bandwidth caps and licensing issues impeding their progress. Let’s not forget technology moves so rapidly its hard to predict where and how the next big music selling system will develop. Thus, streaming and cloud services are relegated to “wait-and-see” status for now.
Another idea suggests attaching the music to something held with a higher form of worth and anticipation. For instance, what’s stopping the industry from including a specially marked digital albums, EPs and songs from events in and outside of its realm? Companies could throw in a special edition of an album download voucher to general ticket holders at the time of purchase and have the artists add the bonus tracks to their set. Odds are ticket buyers already have the LP of the artist they’re paying to see live. The newer version ensures they have the latest copy complete with new songs they just heard from their favorite act. The move could also help spur concert attendance again: conceivably working to the benefit of those employing such a scheme twofold.
Digital LPs could also “Crash” blockbuster weekends and huge game releases with free downloadable copies of soundtracks along with artists’ other albums featured on the track list. These are just a few examples. Yet this m.o. is all about promotion and adding perceived value to content which has next to no value to today’s and tomorrow’s consumers.
The final point stresses drastically cutting the prices of digital records. It’s preposterous to witness digital albums sell for about as much as their physical counterparts. Chalk it up to old habits but digital versions don’t hold much value as is. CDs at least come with liner notes and a physical media you can rip and copy whenever you want. The hard part lies in making sure you don’t lose the material. Some stores like iTunes and Amazon let you re download content you already purchased. Ergo, throwing in downloadable versions along with physical copies is a convenient if not underused option. Yet it wouldn’t be enough to make it a widespread practice since CD sales keep falling.
Digital Music Sales aren’t necessarily in danger at this moment. Nevertheless, the movement may be a bubble ready to burst unless labels come up with new ways to market and sell records. I put the onus on them since they have to come up with methods to make purchasing more appealing than pirating. The model, put as simply as possible, has to adapt before its number gets pulled. Waiting on law enforcement, big suits and purchasers to play their position is the same strategy physical media used to its eventual demise. It’d be silly to let the progression repeat itself in the digital realm as it’s still fresh in everyone’s mind.