Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Future of Music: CD or Not CD?

I'm putting together a presentation on music, and over the next few days will be sharing some of the thinking and research.

I grew up with vinyl, first amassing 45s, then slowly acquiring LPs until I wound up with thousands. But according to NPD, 48 percent of teens did not purchase a single CD in 2007, compared with 38 percent in 2006. (Though, for hipsters, vinyl is back.)

My guess is that within 10 years the CD, like the 45, will become a charming anachronism.

U.S. consumers still love music: NPD says they acquired 6 percent more of it last year than the year before. But they only paid for 42 percent of it, down from 48 percent in 2006, reflecting the rise of digital music stores such as iTunes (poised to become the country's leading music retailer) and the continued growth of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing - same number of people doing it (19 percent) last year, but more files downloaded per user.

So in the future, will music even have a physical format? As phones continue to evolve, will ever-cuter handsets represent our musical tastes? Will people wear their iPod Shuffles as jewelry?

Or will it look like this?

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