The London Telegraph has a story about the magazine business in its business pages today (7 August 2007). Philip Aldrick reported on declining revenues, at EMI. His lead is "The demise of the CD is accelerating. EMI yesterday revealed that its first-quarter revenues from the music format had dropped by nearly a fifth."
Okay, the article is about the recording business, but we should take heed. EMI, one of the recording industry's Giants, was purchased recently for £2.4 billion. That's a lot of pounds but it's a heavyweight company. The article also noted that EMI "posted a 26pc leap in digital revenues."
You don't have to be a graphologist to see the handwriting on the wall.
Let's look at the timeline of recorded sound. Edison applied for a patent for the tin foil cylinder phonograph at the end of 1877. This launched what was to be the cylinder era. The 78 rpm disk became entrenched by the ‘20s. 1948 marked the birth of the 33 1/3 long-playing vinyl record from Columbia records. RCA struck back in 1949 with the 45 rpm. In 1963, Philips gave us the compact tape cassette. Sony, working with its partner Philips, introduced the CD player in 1982 and the compact disc. The CD-ROM has been a commercially available recording medium since 1983.
And now digital downloads are poised to replace CD-ROMs. Despite the recording industry's resources and resistance, the marketplace has voted with its feet — or rather, with its digits. Those pesky consumers apparently want downloadable media. The more they get it, the more they want it. We can chirp happily about the wonders of print — especially its virtues and longevity; but nothing is permanent and — dare I say it?— nothing is sacred.