Sunday, February 10, 2008

Digital Music, CD's and the Grammys

I saw a puff piece on the news tonight about the Grammys and how the record industry is struggling due to the move to digital downloads by many consumers.

While it's true that downloads are changing the music landscape and cutting into the industry's profits, it's also true that it's an inevitable step in the ever evolving world of technology and the record companys have seen it coming for a long time. They should have been working on a game plan for themselves, instead of spending all their time and money trying to prevent it. They should have changed their market stratagy years ago.

Now I love digital music, and I spend a fair amount in the iTunes store, but I also buy CD's (and a record or two) on occasion. If I like an artist I buy the CD, even if I've already downloaded a few tracks.

There are two main reasons I buy the CD. Audio quality and storage.

While MP3's are fine as a portable medium, CD's are higher quality recordings. Think better than iTunes Plus quality, and you don't have to worry about filling up your hard drive to store them, or losing your hard drive and your music.

I know people will argue that the digital music encoded at the higher bit rates is close to CD quality and they would be right, but the files are also exponentially bigger and you still need to keep them somewhere.

If you've gone to the expense of putting together a killer sound system in your living room or man cave, you want to have the optimal listening experience, and that's what the CD gives you. Plus you can rip a copy at any bit rate/quality you choose for your portable devices. Lastly, unless you use them as frisbees, you can be pretty sure that your music is stored safely for a long time. You're actually getting much more bang for your buck with the CD.

So as long as there are audiophiles who spend big bucks on their sound systems, there will be a market for the physical mediums.

Here's a thought for the record companies:

Maybe it's time to lower the price of CD's and start hammering home the quality, storage and cost message.

By the way, the Grammys weren't too bad tonight. Some great performances by some great performers and some pleasant surprises, like album of the year to Herbie Hancock, who is only the second jazz artist to ever receive the award.

It was also great to see a couple of tonight's winners and presenters give Kanye West the buisness. Although he's a talented guy, he's also an incredible dick.

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