Freddie Matthews writes from London: What was the first album you ever bought? Mine was the Adam And The Ants 2ndalbum, Prince Charming, bought on a cold December afternoon. I remember it all even though I was just 9 years old at the time.
It was the beginning of a love of music that eventually led me to working in the industry for over 22 years to date. To this very day I still own that very same record in my vinyl collection and I’m very proud to say so. That love went from vinyl to CD when they became available in 1982-3, although it took many years before I owned my own CD player, as they were expensive, but I can still remember seeing and hearing one for the first time, in my home town of Glasgow, Scotland, in 1984. As I became more and more obsessive about music my CD collection grew larger by the day, I only stopped collecting them when I ran out of storage space with over 3,000+ CDs.
What I’m getting at is, whether you love many music genres or just like the odd album, up until recently we’ve all had some form of music collection but the kids of today will never need to buy a physical album, to hold, or even download ever again.
How so? It’s a sad state of affairs but we’re on the edge of a streaming music revolution, as the streaming of music is on track to take over from the download.
I know plenty of people who are yet to achieve their first music download (come on we’re no longer in the Dark Ages) yet Strategy Analytics report that globally the music download is decreasing, while the streaming of music is on the increase and fast.
The way we access our music is also changing, as mobile downloading and streaming services become the present and not just a thing of the future. I suppose that was always going to happen thanks to the power of the Smart Phone. Like a tiny laptop conveniently in your pocket, it’s all about accessibility and availability and it couldn’t be easier to utilise your own device with ‘cloud’ technology by way of storage. Although downloads still account for over 80 per cent of online music revenues worldwide, with music streaming companies like Spotify and Deezer there will be a shift in this balance over the next 5 years. Even a cynic like me agrees that it actually makes sense. For example:
- If a kid has £10 to spend, at best that’s about 15 individual downloads or one and a half albums.
- With a music streaming service for £10 you can have 1 month of unlimited music streaming to any device, which means listening to as much music as you possibly can during that month without any interruptions, adverts or any limit to what you listen to and when.
It really is the future and I totally get and hate it all in one, but the downside is that your music will never again be from your own personal collection. Never again will a teenager be able to invite a prospective girl or boyfriend back to their bedroom to ‘look’ at their CD collection. It will never be something to be proud of when your friends come round for dinner. You’ll not be able to hold it, smell it, or remember which shop you bought it from and how you were feeling the day you got the bus into town, with your pocket money and couldn’t afford lunch because you wanted the new The Smiths album so much, that your only focus was to have it at any cost.
What concerns me most is that we now have less and less reason to actually get our potentially lazy butts off the sofa and one more reason not to really doesn’t help. Of course we’ll always find different things to collect but it will be a very sad day when the music collection is no longer one of them. For now and until the day I die I’ll be keeping mine, including my Prince Charming original album. Thank you.