Is the End Near for CDs, DVDs and MP3 Files?

July 28, 2014
Most market sources say that digital music from CDs, DVDs, and MP3 downloads are in decline. That does not mean less interest in music.

I am seeing a growing trend toward a new way of listening to music, away from the current media sources.  Most market sources say that digital music from CDs, DVDs, and MP3 downloads are in decline.  That does not mean less interest in music.  But it does signal a big change in how we acquire and listen to music.

How many music sources have you experienced in your life time?  I remember my grandparent’s 78 rpm records and had 45s growing up and 33-1/3 vinyls later.  I also had an 8-track player in my car.  A clunky medium that didn’t last long but worked just fine.  Then the Philips cassette came along.  A big hit thanks to the Sony Walkman and the fact you could record as well as play.  Remember those “mix” tapes you made for friends? 

CDs were next and also a huge success.  All digital media offered superior audio quality.  CDs and DVD concerts and videos are still with us and probably will be for a while although both are in decline.  Those eventually lead to the overwhelming success of MP3 files and buying songs for your iPod from iTunes and others.  Yes, iPods are still around but most people put their digital music on their smartphones today, one song at a time.  And you can always go to YouTube and play almost any hit song you want with the music video for free.

The big question is: what is next?  With the rise of flash memory and USB drives, can we expect to see that s a new alternative?  What about SD or micro SD memory cards used in cameras?  Or something I have not thought of?

Oh yes, we cannot leave out radio.  Lots of folks, including me, still listen to AM and FM radio for music (Yes, AM for goldies country music).  I also have Sirius XM satellite radio that is a big hit today.  With well over 100 digital channels and music categorized by genre Sirius XM has become a real CD-free music option especially on the road.  The problem with radio is you cannot play the song you want when you want it but you can certainly get a great deal of similar music any time.

What is emerging is a trend toward streaming music.  Sort of like radio.  A great example is Spotify, a streaming service that lets you have access to over 20 million songs.  You can stream free if you take the accompanying ads or pay $10 per month with no ads.  You can get it at home via your computer or on a smartphone or tablet on the move.  No need to carry around CDs or pay 99 cents per song download.  Just log on and listen.  Many appreciate the fact that no storage is needed for vast old vinyl collections or drawers and shelves for CDs.  Streaming is more convenient and also quite affordable.  More and more it seems like people would rather rent their music than buy it.  It seems to fit with our instant gratification minimal baggage life style today.


In my previous blog Getting Rid of Cable:  Good Luck with That  I mentioned that my home owner’s association (HOA) did not permit outdoor TV antennas.  Many of you wrote to say that thanks to a ruling by the FCC in 2012, the HOA rules cannot be enforced and that outdoor TV antennas can be used.  Thanks to those of you who wrote with that input.

About the Author

Lou Frenzel Blog | Communications Technology

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