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Everywhere we turn, we can find digital media. TV shows, movies, YouTube videos, games, books, and music are all popularly digitalized. In fact, we don’t even have to pay full price for this entertainment anymore. Want to hear the new Vampire Weekend album? You can find it instantly on YouTube…
With digital media taking over our lives, it’s a wonder physical forms are still manufactured. Music, especially is gaining more and more popularity in digital formats, accounting for 37% of last year’s music purchases last year alone. So, is it time to let go of our physical media and move on to the digital age.
Why People Opt for Digital Music:
1. Longevity – Sure, your file may become corrupt or you may accidentally destroy your entire hard drive, but it’s very difficult to harm digital media files. Once you download them, they’re yours and your can easily make copies to ensure they stick around.
2. Space Saver – Yes, they’ll take up space on your computer (buy a flash stick or external hard drive if you have that many files) but you no longer have to worry about carrying around cds or figuring out where to store them.
3. Cost Effective – In general, digital music is cheaper than buying physical music, because it’s cheaper to produce. There are also tons of apps like Pandora and Spotify that allow you to stream tons of music from your phone or computer for low monthly fees, saving you hundreds longterm.
4. Pick and Choose – Can’t get that Taylor Swift song out of your head, but not committed enough to buy the album? Well, you don’t have to. iTunes and Amazon will let you buy just that song without purchasing an entire album, if you buy the music digitally.
Why People Cling to Physical Music:
1. Love of Music – This isn’t to say that fans of digital aren’t music lovers, but many people will tell you they still buy cds or vinyl because they’re fans of the artist or band they’re buying from. So, by buying physical copies, they’re helping the artists profit and showing their support for their music. Artists only receive so much from Spotify and other apps, but will receive more from fans buying cds or vinyl.
2. Ownership – Technically you own a digital file, but there’s not much to show for it. Many fans of physical media enjoy proudly displaying their 800 cd collection or wall to wall vinyl display. Others believe that unless they have a tangible copy in their hand, they don’t truly own a copy of the album.
3. Nostalgia – Digital music is still relatively new for most people. Majority of the population grew up with vinyl, cassettes, and cds. Buying physical media is not only second nature, it’s what they know. Vinyl sales especially are making a significant comeback, perhaps for the vintage nature of the media, or maybe for the one-of-a-kind sound they produce.
4. Digital Options – It’s easy to turn cds into digital media by ripping them to your media player and storing them on your computer. In fact, new record players can actually convert vinyl music into digital media as well. So, you’ll have a physical and digital copy, should you ever need the other.
So which is better, digital or physical music? Is it time to go entirely digital? The truth is, they both have their benefits depending on your lifestyle and preference. If you’re prone to misplacing items or are simply looking to save money, digital music may be the best way to go. However, if you’re a huge music fan and love to display your passion for music, physical media is probably best for you.