End of Decade, End of Tangible Media?

Over the past couple weeks, I have noticed many music sites posting what they believe to be the best albums of the year, as well as the decade. For some reason, this has got me thinking about the future as well as the past.

How will things look at the end of the next decade? Music, fashion, trends – all these things will undoubtedly be different. In addition, the way we consume media will be different as well.

I was listening to an NPR report in the car the other day, and they were discussing technologies that came out at the beginning of this decade. Some popular three letter abbreviations include Y2K, PDA, MP3, and AOL. Along with the turn of the century came Napster, the first truly popular peer to peer file sharing software. I think that this is where digital music files were realized as the definitive form of consumer music.

In many ways the end of this decade could mark the end of tangible media in general. To clarify, by tangible media I mean physical media – anything that is not digital. With services such as Netflix instant stream, actual DVDs are no longer necessary. The Kindle has brought reading to a new level, where heavy and bulky books are not part of the equation. Ever since Napster, music has been consumed in a much more digital realm. It is weird to think about, but I cannot even remember the last time I purchased a CD at a brick and mortar retailer.

So does this actually mean there will be no more CDs in ten years? Who knows. Perhaps CDs will experience a resurgence in popularity similar to the vinyl revolution that is currently happening. What I do know is that the only CDs I have actually purchased in the past few years have been from local or touring acts. The first thing that I do with these discs is rip them onto my hard drive and put them on my iPod.

Only time will tell how people consume music and other media products at the end of the next decade, but I am betting the trend of digital and intangible files will continue.

Original Artwork by Nick Gentry; http://www.nickgentry.co.uk/index.html