Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The changing shape of recorded music

This is going to be a bit of an ongoing post, as my thoughts clarify. But I am giving a lot of thought as to how recorded music is going to get through to people over the next few years. Changes are definitely afoot, as we move to a world where you can not just get "physical" product but also via download.
For the CD it's what they get in addition to the small silver disc. For the download it's still what quality they get and how the tracks link together that remain a major problem. As well as how people pay for them.
On the way that they look. For the past 20 years, we have had CDs try to emulate in small size the look of vinyl. There was a wonderful period of around 30 years - when LPs first arrived to their replacement by CDs - when artists could have a field day, designing covers which were around 13 inches by 13 inches, in order to make an impact. The cool covers of Blue Note, the pop artists, and everyone could have a great time. Not all were successful. (Selwyn has a great time with his monthly art failures for Jazzwise.) But they were a great opportunity.
CDs were developed as a data transmission format with digitised sound. First, people thought that they could shrink the artwork. But we don't have magnifying glasses and put brochures in the jewel case (developed as a means of protecting the silver disc). Then we have had all sorts of other digipaks and so on.
Shops loved them, as they could put in more CDs per square metre. We record companies loved them, as they are much cheaper to ship than vinyl.
The public put up with them, but up to a point, because the moment that digital download began, they went for it. Even if the sound quality was rubbish, they were of course free, courtesy of Napster.
More soon.....

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