So the latest stats from the record industry suggest that not only is streaming accounting for an ever-larger slice of the music sales ‘pie’, but download sales are declining even faster than the beleaguered CD.
Might I suggest that the download slowdown isn’t just due to the convenience of streaming, but because downloads are just too expensive?
That was brought home to me when I stumbled across a reference, in a hi-fi review I was reading, to the Buddy Holly Down The Line – Rarities compilation from a few years back: being still of a generation preferring to buy and own music rather than stream it, I decided to acquire a copy, so cast around the legal download sites to pick up a FLAC copy to upload to my network server.
Given it was just on a whim, I hummed and hahed more than a bit when I discovered that prices for the two-disc set varied from around £16 to £20, and some extensive searching of sites both in the UK, elsewhere in Europe and beyond didn’t find that price shifting much.
So the set remained in various baskets for a day or two while I considered how much I wanted the set, until I had a late-night inspiration and looked on that famous South American river site for the wonderfully old-fashioned idea of what these days is called ‘physical media’.
£9.99 including delivery and 24 hours later, the two discs were received, ripped and playing from my NAS – and very good they sound too, combining Holly’s demos and early studio takes from his all-too-short career.
Seems the decline of CD can be good for some, if prices have fallen this far. But given the costs of pressing, packaging, stocking and delivering CDs to the end consumer, not to mention the environmental impacts of making bits of plastic inside plastic boxes rather than simply offering files for download, how can online purchases of catalogue albums really be so expensive?