Thursday, November 02, 2006

Is the CD dead?

Step over compact disc. Make way for the digital age. Last week, new ideas were brought forward and discussed at the London Business School Media Summit. Senior executives, investors and consultants from various media industries attended the event.

Alain Levy, the chairman and CEO of EMI Music made the profound statement of the night. He said, “The CD as it is now is dead.” He also said that the industry no longer has the upper hand and that consumers are the ones in control. I can see that.

He also said that CDs need to have more appeal. This could be done by adding more to the CD than just having songs put on it. He also promoted his EMI’s direction, saying that they were stepping forward in producing CD’s with more content.

I thought the obvious, "The CD is dead?" "Didn’t it just begin not too long ago"? It seems that in our day and age, people don’t like running to the store to pick up the new CD by their favorite artist. No, we’re too lazy to run so we’ll click a few buttons and download our favorite track from that artist. We don’t need to buy the whole album. That is a draw for some though. Why would you spend $14 on a CD when you could spend 99 cents on iTunes for one track? It certainly sounds appealing. But what about the artist? Wouldn’t they lose money? If everyone bought one or two songs from their CD, or worse, stole it, what would happen to the band? Where does their revenue generate from?

It began with live music, which people got lazy to go see so they created the record player. They could listen to their favorite band or musician anytime they pleased, but it was a pain to try and find the song they wanted to hear. Plus, the records were huge! Where could you put 100 records? Consequently, they created the 8-track. Remember those? Kind of like the tape player, only 100 times worse. They were too big and clunky. No, whatever it was, it had to be smaller. As a result the tape cassette was forged, making it possible for you to listen to it in your car, on your walkman or on your multi-tasking stereo system. But rewinding and fast forwarding got to be a hassle. People thought, “Hmm…what can we create next that has great sound quality and you can skip to any song you want?” This brought us to the CD. CD’s are great until they get scratched and skip horribly. It can be very annoying. But what else could there be? Everything has been done! But wait! Why not put our songs on the computer where they won’t skip (provided the CD wasn’t scratched when you loaded it on the computer) and download them to an iPod? There are many different versions of the iPod which are each capable of holding a vast amount of music. Some such as the 60 gig iPod can even play movies! But how far is too far? Where will the industry go next? Will music be planted into our brains?

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