Monday, 25 October 2010

Digital Downloads – The Future Or A Musical Limbo?

Debate is rife in the record industry at present as to how people are going to buy the music they want to listen to in future. Opinions differ, but the only certainty is that no-one actually knows...

The Pink Floyd's Nick Mason went on record the other day saying that when his band was formed it was a much more cut and dried affair; if you wanted to hear The Floyd play 'The Dark Side Of The Moon', for instance, you either bought a concert ticket and went along hoping they'd play it or you purchased the vinyl. You might be lucky enough to hear it on radio if you were happy with the somewhat Russian Roulette nature of that medium, but that was about it.

Now, of course, the options are seemingly endless; digital music is everywhere and a perfect fit for the fast food generation. But whether people will ever be at peace with owning something that has no actual physical presence in their lives is another question.

I attended an interesting talk with bookshop mogul Tim Waterstone the other evening and he said that people have been predicting the death of books and magazines for almost as long as he has been in the business and yet, despite dedicated digital readers like Amazon's Kindle, books are still selling well and giving no sign of becoming an endangered species any time soon.

I'll hazard a guess that it's going to be the same for music; despite the convenience and instant gratification of digital downloads, there is a generation out there who still prefer their music in physical form. After all, something that you can't hold in your hands might just be perceived as being of little real value; we always had the option to copy LPs to cassette and yet the question of piracy has only really become a serious concern in this digital age.

So is it possible for the recording music industry to move forward without its silver spinning discs? Evolution without revolutions? I somehow doubt whether change – when it comes and whatever guise it takes – will be as radical as some pundits believe.