If I buy hard copy, give me digital too
When EDM composer BT released a follow-up to 2006’s Binary Universe this past summer via Amazon’s CreateSpace platform, a single question kept reappearing: would MP3 vouchers be available for those that purchased hard copies of the album? For whatever reason, it wasn’t an option that Amazon was equipped to offer, which begs the question of why.
I’m not one for clutter. I don’t own DVDs or hang on to excess clothing or rack up much of anything, save for a small collection of stamps and my penchant for books. That said, my digital music library has stretched beyond 100G of space and it’s not going on a diet any time soon.
Do I own enough CDs to match the 12,000 tracks in iTunes? No, but why would I? Why would anyone—save for audio connoisseurs that recognize the difference in sound quality between an MP3 or AAC file and the quality found on vinyl or CDs—hang on to physical copies of albums when digital formats literally save physical space? It’s a no-brainer.
However, what about the die-hards that like hard copy for liner notes and album art or the occasional artist autograph? Frankly, sometimes it’s a tough decision: do you go with a digital download that you can’t actually touch or do you go with something tangible? Why can’t we have both?
Considering the discussion regarding the changing economy of the music industry, the increased accessibility for independent musicians to produce and distribute their livelihood and the perpetual swing of technology (and it’s effect on everything prior,) it’s a wonder why no one has seriously pursued packaging hard copy with digital copy. If you buy digital, maybe you get a discount on hard copy and if you buy hard copy, maybe you get a voucher for digital or can add it for X-dollar amount.
Add the ubiquitous “cloud” to this—combined with a setup like the Kindle network wherein you could lend certain music files to people you know or “borrow” said files for a specified amount of time—and it’s a different conversation altogether. Of course, this concept assumes that streaming music trends are mere fads and also assumes that digital natives would consider purchasing or owning music over streaming. It also assumes that one day all of the labels would consider “lending” digital music files versus borrowing hard copy from the local library (not likely happening any time soon.)