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Friday, May 9, 2008


These darn kids today & their newfangled music formats!

It seems that teenagers don’t buy CDs anymore.  They have moved beyond the compact disc in a big way. 

I know this because I just read this article in the LA Times, which says that in 2007, half of all U.S. teenagers bought zero CDs.  Well, almost half… it’s 48%. 

That’s sort of astounding.  I remember being a teenager–barely–and I bought a lot of tapes and CDs.  Hey, back off…I’m just old enough that my youth spanned the gap between cassette tapes and CDs. 

But regardless….I bought a lot of music. 

And I don’t think music is any less important to teenagers today than it was to kids in my day.  It’s pretty clear what’s going on:  iTunes and illegal song-swapping have killed the compact disc… or at least maimed it. 

The illegal sharing of music online continued to soar in 2007, but there was one sign of hope that legal downloading was picking up steam. In the last year, Apple Inc.’s iTunes store, which sells only digital downloads, jumped ahead of Best Buy Co. to become the No. 2 U.S. music seller, trailing Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Please note that Wal-Mart is the number one music retailer in the U.S.  Also note that Tower Records went out of business in 2006.  Also note how sad these two facts make me.  And the article says that computers are to blame.  Here’s a snippet:

Rachel Rottman, 14, says she hasn’t bought a CD in a year. The Santa Monica High School freshman says she downloads five or six songs a day, using paid services such as iTunes and social networking site MySpace, where bands post songs for free download. Rachel said she had about 2,600 songs stored on her computer.

Before getting a computer in the seventh grade, she always bought CDs. But now it’s too much trouble, she said.

“You have to go to the store and then you have to pay — I don’t know how much, $12, I’m guessing? — then you have to put it on your computer,” Rachel said. “When you download it, it’s right there.”

Man, this girl is out of touch if she thinks CDs are only $12. 

But seriously, she’s right.  Buying a CD is, to this generation, just an unnecessary step in the process of getting your favorite songs on your iPod or uploaded to your MySpace page.  By the time people my age start becoming grandparents, the age of the physical medium for entertainment will have come to a close.  Movies, TV shows, music and more will be all digital.  These crazy teenagers today just don’t care about holding something tangible in their hands.  They care only for the music. 

In a decade or so you’ll find quaint little throwback boutiques opening up in trendy places like Nashville and Austin and they’ll sell things like CDs, DVDs, BluRay Discs, and other physical media like magazines and books.  And hippie people will shop there and remember the days when your entertainment dollars actually brought you something you could hold in your hand and touch.  And those things will cost $100 a piece, because they’ll be nostalgic items now… antiques. 

But the trend has too much momentum to be stopped now.  Digital media is the wave of the future.  You can either ride the wave, or let it overtake you… but there’s no stopping it, that’s for sure.  I can just hear the Scooby-Doo CD manufacturers howling about how they “would’ve gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids.”

Hey, at least music itself isn’t dead… yet.

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