Thursday, August 23, 2012

buying physical cd's vs. streaming & downloads...

It is obvious that not as many physical cds are sold as even 10 years ago. No young people are buying stereos and cd players. The PC (or laptop) is the stereo of today.

What makes me still buy physical cds? It has to be an artist I love and an album I love. I am still somewhat of a collector. I like special or "Deluxe" editions of albums that are reissued on cd. I still like to read liner notes. I care who played what on an album; who produced it, etc...

I think some record companies and retailers have the right idea by including something extra that you can't get with the download. Often this involves having bonus tracks and/or a bonus DVD. I love "making of the album" features that are often part of the content. Best Buy often have exclusive deals that include a T-shirt. 

I just picked up the new Joe Walsh CD that comes with bonus tracks, a bonus DVD and a T-shirt. Good marketing !

Van Halen also included a bonus DVD and T-shirt if you wanted and exclusive edition sold only thru Walmart

Bob Lefsetz is a noted blogger who is respected and read by many regarding his views and opinions on the music business. 

He says, and rightly so, that we are moving to a "streaming" world when it comes to music. Most people don't need to "own" music anymore, they just want access to it. Lefsetz recommends artists and the industry should focus on earning their royalties from legal streaming services (Spotify, Pandora, etc.). 
I think he is right. I have a 14-year old niece. She has an IPod Touch and an IPad. She's told me she mainly streams the songs she likes on YouTube. That right, "songs"; most kids are into 1 or 2 songs from an artist, no way they are buying or downloading a full cd. Maybe, they buy a single once in a while...
Lefsetz also notes that mobile devices are becoming the main sources of listening. These days many people have an auxiliary input on the car stereos to plug in Ipods, Ipads, Iphones, etc. Heck, one of the main reasons I still buy or burn cds is for car listening. I don't have an auxiliary input. Smart phones are now part Ipod anyway. They are great for doing some kind of exercise and listening to music.

So the key is to figure out what steaming service to use. Pandora Radio is an excellent free option. You can't pick a song to specifically play on command but you can create stations" like say a "Pink Floyd" station that will obviously play a lot of Pink Floyd but also play similar artist including newer artist you may have never heard of. I've discovered some cool new and older music I've never heard.

While Spotify is free on PC use, mobile use will cost you a monthly fee.$9.99 a month isn't bad but that is still $120 a year. One would just have to decide if that is worth it.

I had a free six month trial subscription to Napster and thought it was very good. You could look up specific artist and albums and create a quick queue playlist. I just have trouble paying $9.99 a month.  They seemed to be tied in with Rhapsody now.

I do have the SiriusXM app on my smart phone. It cost a reasonable $3.99 a month because I have subscription for my car. The $3.99 also includes access to stream on a PC.

Another category would be "cloud"  storage where the content is yours, that you have uploaded to the company's servers. 

Amazon just introduced their  "Cloud Player"  app to play your cloud stored content on your IPhone or IPad. I downloaded  and upgraded for the unlimited music storage for $20 a year*. So far I am digging it and it was what I was looking for.

I am going to give this a try. Drawback is the free storage is limited and you have to take the time and use your bandwidth to upload your music. (Comcast allows 250GB of combination of downloads and uploads). 
*(Oops as of 8/1/12 they changed to 250,000 song limit. They must have felt like they were giving too much!)

Google music offers a similar service but only offer a mobile app for Android phones.

Apple has the iCloud service but it got a little confusing for me and I have not tried really.

Dropbox is another cloud based storage service. There is an app for Iphone and you can play music on it but again free storage is limited.

So as Bob Lefsetz believes, it looks like the way to go will be to pay monthly fee to stream music.
I will still buy certain cd's. I'm not completely sold on the sound quality of mp3 and streaming . It's not secret we've sacrificed sound quality for portability and convenience.

No comments:

Post a Comment