The Evolution of the Music Format by: Joseph Beaty (DPS Insider)
We have gone through format after format with how we buy music. Vinyl, 8-Track, Cds and slew of digital formats from .MP3 to .Flac. Seems like a new digital format pops up daily. 8-tracks died a painful death and have not returned in any sort of hipster scene. (Yet) Cassettes are mostly dead with a few hipsters releasing their records on cassettes as novelty with a download code. Vinyl on the other hand, has been around for quite some time. It seems that vinyl continues to survive. Through all the format changes. We still see vinyl on shelves. Record store day has been going strong with vinyl releases from big name bands. I have bought several pieces of vinyl recently. A few which included digital copies. A nice feature. I enjoy vinyl because of it’s large artistic canvas for the artwork. On to the Cd format.
I am a product of the alternative generation. I went to the Cd store and bought my Tool, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Fugazi and Jane’s Addiction Cds and (sometimes even cassettes) right when they came out. Basically every band that ever payed a Lollapalooza festival. It became a habit of sorts. Even after a lot of the local record stores died off, I found my online stores and bought music there. Which led to the obvious transition of downloading for myself and everyone else. Everyone gets everything they want right when they think of it. Mostly for free. Hence, the death of the Cd.
Here we are now in a mostly digital age for music. I still find myself buying more hard copies these days than the last few years? I am truly enjoying them. Vinyl and Cds. I think many people would agree that downloading gets old after a while. You only need to listen to one band that sounds like Pearl Jam. So I stream my music online at Pandora or on band’s websites. If I like what I hear and the band or artist are offering a physical release, I will buy it. Do I think we will return to this label run music world where we are spoon-fed music? Probably not. However, I do think that the independent musician is in a prime place to release limited physical packages to die hard fans. I still like to know I am getting something tangible for my money. The digital download included is a nice touch.
Streaming media in the cloud is the now. Why own it? Are people caring less about the art form of music and albums? I am not really sure. I still feel the need to support music and the arts with paying for something and getting something in return. I did the free download thing for a while and it felt dirty. I think at the end of the day it comes down to the quality and dedication to music. Formats aside, I still want the real thing if the artist is the real thing. At the very least some goodies bundled with my download. Wallpapers and bonus tracks make downloading exciting. Just like that hidden track on Nirvana’s Nevermind album. That was a nice and welcome surprise. I can meander all day about this. We are witnessing quite an evolution of the music format. It amazes me that vinyl keeps rearing it’s head. Will the Cd come back as a hipster format like vinyl? What do you think? Crazy evolution in such a short amount of time huh?
This is really interesting. I can’t help but think of how music artists are and are not embracing modern technology.
One thing that sticks out to me is the use, and lack of use, of USB Flash drives.
Some bands, like Nine Inch Nails, for instance, have given out Flash drives at their shows as a sort of special treat. And I wonder why it isn’t a more frequently tapped into medium for delivering and marketing music/art.
A flash drive can be designed to have aesthetic appeal, or, at the very least, a band logo. And anything can be put on them, music art, pdf. lyrics books, etc.
Hot Topic sells Shockhound.com 2GB USB’s that have the website’s logo: http://img.hottopic.com/is/image/HotTopic/384981_hi
There’s also the opportunity for Guerrilla music advertising through extremely portable USBs. With things like hand-outs, giveaways and, dead drops, http://deaddrops.com/
This is a mostly digital answer to the question of physical releases, sure it’s not much to luck at, but it provides something tangible. I have mixed feelings about the whole “cloud age” myself. I agree that it feels better to physically own the music!
Thanks for the great blog post. =]