Do you remember buying CDs? Please don’t say no. I certainly do. In fact, I still do purchase physical copies now and again, which is true of many die-hard music fans. How about vinyl? That’s proving even more successful, despite the digital age, as people are turning to the raw, crackling sounds that record players provide. So, what changed?
The ease of carrying your music around in your pocket, for one. From Walkmans to iPods, enterprising companies came up with incredibly handy ways to have all your favourite tracks (and more) stored in one place. All you needed were some earphones or headphones, then you were away! So simple. Nowadays, it’s even easier, with many of us streaming and saving music to our phones and devices through Spotify, SoundCloud and so on. We’re a ‘right here, right now’ generation that likes instant gratification, so why wouldn’t we expect the same portability from our music libraries?
But why ditch physical copies entirely? To me, there’s no point. An album or LP in your hands promises the full experience — the end-to-end opening of the packaging to putting the disc or record on. You’ll also have artwork to explore, which can often be a real delight. It’s an opportunity for an artist to creatively map their music with visual accompaniment, so I’m still keen to buy a physical copy of an album that I know will be exciting when you leaf through the cover booklet.
I appreciate the convenience of having everything at your fingertips, but why not do both? What’s wrong with owning the real, tangible versions alongside streaming the album through your phone? I think there’s still a place for physical copies in an otherwise digital-dominated age.