Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Technology Can Make Virtual Goods Feel Physical. Is Physical Relevant?

You've ephemeralized all your LPs. You've ripped all your CDs. Once you've captured your entire music collection as bits only, are all those leftover atoms relevant?

A study conducted in Norway, Denmark and Sweden by Aspiro Music and Norstat reveals that a majority of music fans still value their physical past, even as they look toward the ephemeral future. Only a handful have banished the past entirely. And a significant minority have taken the first step toward banishment, though they can't quite let go.

[Image: Library den Haag.]

In a survey of 1000 people in each country, 60%-70% of responders (varying from country to country) said they still displayed their physical music collection. 1%-3% had already sold it, donated it, or trashed it. And 20%-30% said they had relegated the collection to bulk storage (basement, garage, etc.).

Technology has made at least part of my dematerialized music library — the part installed from LP — seem physical by preserving the sonic quality of vinyl. The physical discs themselves thus don't have much present value. They may have future value in the event I have to re-install the music in some disaster recovery scenario. But I want them out of the way, along with their fraternal twins the CDs. So I stand with the representative  25% of Scandinavians that have chosen out-of-sight storage for physical media.

Significantly, there is no specific provision in my estate plan covering the disposition of my physical media collections. But I do specifically designate that the dematerialized music collection be donated to my local municipal Library, reflecting my estimate of its lasting value.

The Aspiro/Norstat study concludes that fewer than 10% of respondents believe they will still be buying physical media in 2-4 years. There should be a cool way to show off your collection once completely dematerialized. Probably an app for that. Will you continue to display physical media collections in the future?

            Vinyl-to-Digital Restoration #16            

Artist: The Clash
Title: London Calling
Genre: Alternative
Year: 1979

At this point in my life, London Calling is not a title I would deliberately listen to start-to-finish. And as an LP, that would be my only listening alternative (at a minimum, listening to one side). Freed from its physical boundaries, each track now has the opportunity to mix and mingle with any other track in the library — offering a continental counterpoint to Jamaica in reggae playlists; or played opposite Big Audio Dynamite, Ellen Foley (see below) or even Johnny Cash. Some dismiss this playback style as aural wallpaper or lazy convenience. But how can illuminating and exploring musical connections be a negative?

            Vinyl-to-Digital Restoration #17            

Artist: Ellen Foley
Title: Spirit of St. Louis
Genre: Rock
Year: 1981

Some combination of Ellen Foley co-starring with Meat Loaf in Paradise by the Dashboard Lights, her TV/film acting credits, and the production presence of Mick Jones of The Clash (obliquely credited in the liner notes as, "Produced by My Boyfriend") convinced me to take a chance on this title. And, even after all these years, it does not disappoint.

© Copyright 2012 Thomas G. Dennehy. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Will you continue to display physical media collections in the future? Please leave a comment.