• Could downloaded music kill the CD
  • Could downloaded music kill the CD
    Written by battye
    Thu Jan 10, 2008 8:14 am

    Until the arrival of Napster, mp3’s were few and far between. My first contact with mp3’s came in 1998 in the Malaysian city of Kuala Lumpur. The dodgy bootleg store was selling thousands of “CD’s”, each claiming to hold hundreds of tracks. At just a couple of dollars each, it was worth the risk.

    Upon inserting the disks into my Windows 98 computer, I was shocked to see that there were indeed hundreds of tracks. Not all of the disks worked, but some of them did - in the end it was worth whatever negligible expense it ended up costing me.

    While you can still see mp3 disks, generally it is because a mate has burned it for you, or someone has wanted to keep a backup. These days, mp3’s aren’t sold as disks in stores - they are sold online through services such as iTunes and the revamped Napster. Granted, they are not really mp3’s after being applied with various DRM and anti-piracy measures, but mp3 has become a universally used term for any sort of digital media. Case in point, people don’t ask you how many songs you have on your digital music player, it’s “How many songs do you have on your mp3 player” - or perhaps “on your iPod” if you are lucky enough to have one.

    Before the paid for services, P2P software such as WinMX and Kazaa were literally the online homes for mp3’s. The quality was good, often comparable to CD’s, the files were small and quick to download, and they were FREE. If you only liked one song on an album, you could get that song only. That convenience has been passed on to iTunes and the like.

    While songs off iTunes aren’t free, they are reasonably inexpensive. A lot of people don’t mind paying for music, which is why the paid services, in particular iTunes, are so successful. It shows that people weren’t intentionally pirating music for the thrill of it in the early part of the decade, but were pirating music because it was easy and convenient. Something which going to the CD store often is not.

    The convenience factor doesn’t stop there. I could write an entire article on the convenience of instantly transferring downloaded songs to an mp3 player, without the hassle of ripping it from a CD.

    The fact of the matter is, if an entire album is good enough, people will probably buy it as a CD. I often do myself. Collectors will like the fact that a CD is tangible, proof that you do like this album. But despite that, I think the luxury of choosing what you want, and when you want it, is what makes downloading music off the internet the future of the music industry.
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