Audio CDs vs Online Streaming
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Listening To Music In An Age Of Infinite Choice

Spotify offers a library of 30 million songs.

Today, with $9.99 in your back pocket and a working Internet connection, you can sign up for Spotify and get instant access to some 30 million songs, all ready and waiting to be played at the push of a button.

For today's teenagers, that's the new norm. For anyone who grew up carefully collecting records one by one before the turn of the 21st century, it's a strange new world that takes some getting used to.

The growth of the Web and the spread of high-speed access to it hasn't just brought all the world's knowledge to our fingertips, it's brought all of the world's music (and movies and TV shows) along, too. And that's causing a fundamental change in the way we think about the songs that can play such large roles in our lives.

In the words of Thom Yorke on the 2000 Radiohead song "Idioteque"—which may or may not be about a future technological apocalypse—it's "everything all of the time." Which is bound to have an impact on both our listening habits and even such simple things as the basic idea of a record collection.

How We Got HereSpotify is accessible from almost anywhere.

The history of recorded music starts somewhere in the 19th century, but for brevity's sake we'll start with the MP3: Once music could be easily digitized into ones and zeroes, it became much easier to duplicate tunes and ping them across the world in seconds.

Having dozens, then hundreds, then thousands of tracks on a PC and later an MP3 player was the first fundamental shift in music listening habits. Listeners could suddenly queue up a whole day of music with a few clicks of the mouse.

The iPod (launched in 2001) wasn't the first portable digital audio player, but it was clearly the most influential. Why take a stack of CDs with you in the car when your iPod can carry more songs more easily?

The landscape shifted dramatically in a few short years. Whereas tapes and vinyl had to be listened to sequentially, and CDs only offered limited mixing options (remember those 6-CD changers?), the humble shuffle button soon became an integral part of listening to music.

Thousands of songs, sorted randomly on your behalf, plus the ability to jump ahead whenever you like—perhaps that's why more than half the tunes we listen to now get skipped before they finish.

Subsequently, less than a decade after the MP3 turned music listening on its head, Spotify did it again with its 2008 launch. Suddenly (just about) all of the music in existence was yours for one flat monthly fee, as long as you keep paying.

It meant renting, rather than owning, music. But it also ushered in the age of the infinite record collection: More music at your fingertips, but also less of a connection to it.

What Happens NextRdio opened its virtual doors in 2010.

We all have our own listening habits, of course. Vinyl sales are on the rise again, which proves we're not all signing up for the digitally streamed, limitless record collection model just yet. But for kids growing up with Spotify and Netflix, earlier ways of collecting music, whether on CD or iTunes, are looking rather out-dated.

When whatever you want to listen to is only a search or a click away, it's hard to go back to a model of slow, deliberate and expensive aggregation. Having everything all at once is the new standard, and looks likely to stay so for the foreseeable future. (Even Apple has apparently seen the light.)

It's impossible to ignore YouTube in all of this. The video service isn't as slick and organized as Spotify and the like, but it's heading in that direction. It's also free of charge to boot, making it the go-to music source for more people than you might realize. You can listen to any new single on YouTube free of charge from anywhere, and that's a huge deal.

With so much music available, listeners need tour guides more than ever—whether that's Spotify's recommended panel, a playlist made by your next-door neighbor or a Pitchfork review. We need help finding the best stuff—although again, there's also a bewildering variety of options for that kind of discovery.

We've always had gatekeepers—like the radio DJ or record store clerk—telling us what's worth listening to from everything that's out there. But the mechanics of how that works have become more crucial and more democratic.

Bringing Back FocusR.E.M. has changed since 1994 ... and so has music.

One of the first albums I bought was R.E.M.'s Monster, on tape. I would listen to it over and over again for weeks on end, with an occasional switch back to the radio. There was no shuffling and no skipping, and as a consequence I got to know that album better than almost any other since.

Monster is still there in my Spotify collection, of course—but now it's surrounded by millions of other songs that are a click away. I could still listen to it for hours on repeat, but I'm much less likely to with so much other stuff to explore.

In some ways, I'm happy to embrace the ways of the future; but there are aspects of the analog age that I miss. As Nick Hornby so wonderfully puts it: "If you own all the music ever recorded in the entire history of the world, then who are you?"

Of course, Spotify and the other streaming services still allow you to form your own virtual record collection through playlists and favorites, and showing it off to the world has never been easier.

A bigger issue is bringing back intent, focus and deliberate listening, free of skips and shuffling, during a time when 30 million other songs are only a click or a tap away—and that's an Internet-age problem that's not exclusive to music. I'm glad to have instant access to every album ever made but I wish I knew a few more of them as well as I know Monster.

If Spotify, Rdio, Deezer, Google, Apple and all the other players in the music streaming field can solve that problem, then they're welcome to add on a few more dollars to my monthly subscription.

Images courtesy of Spotify, Rdio and R.E.M.

Via Bart Johnson
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Home Audio Equipment Market Hits $22.50 Billion By 2020: Grand View Research, Inc.

Home Audio Equipment Market Hits $22.50 Billion By 2020: Grand View Research, Inc. | Audio CDs vs Online Streaming |

The global home audio equipment market is expected to reach USD 22.50 billion by 2020, according to a new study by Grand View Research, Inc. Growing consumer demand for high-quality home theater experience attributed to increased disposable income is expected to drive the market over the forecast period. Increasing trend towards deployment of sophisticated equipment, high-speed data streaming, faster internet connectivity and internet-exclusive entertainment are expected to proliferate the need for external audio solutions. Emergence of Bluetooth products coupled with wireless Blu-ray home theater systems is expected to positively impact market growth.

Home audio equipment comprises a wide range of equipment including multi-channel amplifiers, compact audio system and home radios. Manufacturers of this equipment have been striving to expand market penetration by innovating visually less intrusive and user-friendly systems. Therefore, technological advancement in digital technology with changing media options from conventional to latest systems is expected to be positively impact home audio equipment market growth over the next six years. High development cost and fear of hearing loss among the consumers may hamper market growth through the forecast period. Emergence of realistic immersive home audio equipment along with better internet connectivity offers a wide avenue to drive demand for the home audio equipment market.

View summary of this report @

Further key findings from the study suggest:

• The home audio equipment market comprises products such as audio systems, home radios, Home Theater-in-a-box (HTiB) and other accessories. The home audio systems segment includes MP3 players, mini disc players, compact audio systems, cassette deck, rack system and CD/DVD players. HTiB products include 5.1, 6.1, 7.1 and 9.1 channels and the segment is expected to witness significant growth over the forecast period. This can be attributed to several benefits associated with this technology such as unrestricted mobility and high quality sound systems.
• Widening consumer base in Asia Pacific markets owing to higher affordability and rapid urbanization trends is expected to significantly drive the home audio equipment industry. Demand for digital home radios driven by growing promotional activities is expected to drive regional market growth. The North American market is characterized by rise in unit sales of flat-panel HD TVs.
• Key companies operating in the market include Sony Corporation, Bose Corporation, LG Electronics, JVC KENWOOD Holdings Inc., Philips, Dolby Laboratories Inc. and Akai. Rising emphasis on vertical integration activities in order to obtain greater product reliability and optimized manufacturing throughput is estimated to be the major growth strategy.

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For the purpose of this study, Grand View Research has segmented the global home audio equipment market on the basis of product and region:

Home Audio Equipment Product Outlook (Revenue, USD Billion, 2012 – 2020)
    • Home Theater in-a-Box
    • Home Audio Systems
    • Home Radios
    • Others
Home Audio Equipment Regional Outlook (Revenue, USD Billion, 2012 – 2020)
    • North America
    • Europe
    • Asia Pacific
    • RoW

Via Haakon Johnson
Haakon Johnson's curator insight, February 3, 2015 10:43 AM

About Grand View Research
Grand View Research, Inc. is a U.S. based market research and consulting company, registered in the State of California and headquartered in San Francisco. The company provides syndicated research reports, customized research reports, and consulting services. To help clients make informed business decisions, the company offers market intelligence studies ensuring relevant and fact-based research across a range of industries including technology, chemicals, materials, healthcare and energy.

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Grand View Research, Inc.
United States
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Streaming means record industry's 'rough ride' is coming to an end - CNET

Streaming means record industry's 'rough ride' is coming to an end - CNET | Audio CDs vs Online Streaming |
A music industry insider reckons physical media and streaming can coexist in a way CDs and downloads couldn't.
Casey Smith's curator insight, June 14, 2015 10:22 PM

what will happen to Cds in the next 5-10 years because of live streaming 

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Streaming Music Finally Makes More Money Than CDs

Music services like Spotify and Pandora have reason to celebrate. In 2014, revenue from streaming services outpaced CD sales for the first time, according to a report released Wednesday by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Streaming services accounted for $1.87 billion in revenue, while CDs represented $1.85 billion, the report said. This means that streaming accounted for 27 percent of the total industry revenue in 2014, up from 21 percent the year before.

Overall, the industry's revenue growth was essentially flat between 2013 and 2014, as it has been for five years according to the RIAA.

2014 revenue from streaming services represented a slightly smaller piece of the music industry than digital downloads and overall "physical" sales, which come from CDs, CD singles, super audio CDs, LPs, EPs, vinyl singles, music videos and DVD audio. But there's no doubt that streaming has quickly become a vital part of the marketplace, with a 34 percent increase in revenue from ad-supported services and a 25 percent increase in paid subscription services in 2014 compared to 2013.

While streaming revenue increased, digital downloads -- think albums or singles purchased from the iTunes store -- declined in 2014. That could help explain why Apple purchased Beats for $3 billion last year. The popular headphone maker also runs a streaming service called Beats Music, and Apple is expected to unveil a new streaming service based on Beats Music in June.

Streaming also faces challenges as it becomes more popular and lucrative. A very public feud between Taylor Swift and Spotify last year highlighted cash-flow problems in popular streaming models. They're great for giving consumers access to huge music libraries at minimal cost, but they put less money in artists' hands than traditional album sales.

H/T New York Times

Via Mike Sireci
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More users and more services for online radio streaming

More users and more services for online radio streaming | Audio CDs vs Online Streaming |
25/3/2015 Radio Streaming
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Inside Sony's plot to snuff out the MP3 for good with high-res audio - Digital Trends

Inside Sony's plot to snuff out the MP3 for good with high-res audio - Digital Trends | Audio CDs vs Online Streaming |
Here's how Sony plans on converting you from MP3 audio to high-resolution audio in the next few years. A lot of progress has been made already.
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