The death of the record collection

Progress in Sound

With easy access and an abundance of songs, it is no wonder streaming is becoming one of the most popular ways to listen to music. Legally streaming opens up a world of possibilities in which you can test compatibility with all different genres. Streaming becomes an online record store with unlimited browsing.

Once you’ve tried the tunes and realised you can’t live without them, you then have to option to make a permanent purchase to add to your collection. This is especially effective for those on a budget who love music but can’t afford to buy music without testing it first. Streaming music can lead to potential customers being able to make a more confident and informed purchase. Whilst most streaming apps do cost money to access their full features, they allow you to listen to an endless library of music and open doors that may otherwise have been closed to you.

If anything, the technology itself is responsible for a lack of physical sales in today’s society, not streaming. Music on the go, through portable devices, makes CDs and records redundant. Blaming the use of streaming only unjustly discredits its positive merits of being economically friendly and effective in further encouraging a love of music.

– Leia Butler

Death of a Record Salesman

The way we access music today has totally revolutionised what our concept of music is and our value of it. For the second time in the past six years, the ‘go-to’ music retailer, HMV, has fallen into administration; it is no surprise why. According to the BPI, in the whole of 2018, just 32,000,000 CDs were sold, a huge drop from ten years ago back when CDs were the closest and most authentic way to access new music. Despite a recent revival in vinyl sales, thanks largely to endless remastering of the ‘essential’ vinyl albums (The Velvet Underground debut and Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures come to mind). Is this the death of the record-collector?

This will seem hypocritical; I use streaming services and I do appreciate the ease with which they allow access to music. This, I fear, does have its repercussions. There is no sense of personal achievement and effort in listening to a song or album via streaming compared to the tactility of physical copies. Album sleeves always had the aura of mystery about them, each part a puzzle; a piece of history. In streaming we lose this, it is almost like we’re told that touch doesn’t matter, why hold when you can swipe? Streaming may be in its halcyon days, but with passion and care, I sincerely hope the record shop can still live to fight another day in this Age of Stream.  

Lewis Oxley

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May 2022
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