Despite the many predictions that CDs will soon disappear and be replaced by fully digital distribution, I’ve always thought that they would rather be displaced toward a “high-end product” niche. That is, mp3 is for the music you just like and listen to casually, but for bands and artists you really care about, you’ll gladly purchase a CD.
Back when the CDs first appeared, I was still mostly using audio tapes for stuff I didn’t really value but was interested in nonetheless. Then CDs became much more common, all stores started to have bargain bins, and lending CDs from friends or a library replaced the tape. Then came CD burners. And finally mp3s. Nowadays if someone tells me about this band he’s just discovered, the band’s name is usually enough for me to find out what he’s talking about.
So, it seems a study has somewhat confirmed my intuition. It’s surprising that a study commissioned by the British recording industry (British Music Rights) would reach conclusions which are (apparently) not totally biased.
Among other findings, 80% of the youngsters they polled claimed they would pay for “a legal subscription-based music service that would allow them to discover, swap and recommend music”. May be there’s room for this kind of service after all. While I still believe Jobs got it right when he said that people don’t want to rent their music, there could be a “don’t care so much about it” space where renting would be good enough. Time will tell…