This past Christmas I drove out to our local Target to pick up a new Christmas CD for the wife. No luck. I drove over to Best Buy, home of everything electronic, and was surprised by how much they had…changed. The vast rows of CDs and DVDs—which, along with the equipment to play them, had once been a major part of the store—were gone. Somehow I had missed a major change in the cultural landscape.
Though I haven’t been a big consumer of music on CD, still I feel I’ve done my part to keep the music industry running, often picking up a couple of CDs for the holidays or gifts for birthdays. The same for DVDs, purchasing a few every year. When the collectors edition of Star Wars came out on DVD, I picked up a copy along with The Lord of the Rings (and the Hobbit!). I’ve added to my James Bond collection all of the Daniel Craig movies as they came out. The same with Batman and of course The Avengers. Building my audio video library piece by piece through the years, I was surprised by how much we had when it came time to pack and move to our new place two years ago.
On March 31, 1997, digital video disc (DVD) video players were first released for sale in the United States. Remember Netflix and their DVDs in a self return mailer? Netflix began in 1997 mailing out DVDs in a self return mailer based on your list of favorites. Within ten years they had switched to a streaming service. Before we switched to Netflix we would stop by our local Blockbuster and grab a few movies for the weekend. Remember Blockbuster? They filed for bankruptcy in 2010. Culture shift. Movies online, no more standing in line.
Best Buy announced that they would be phasing out all CD sales by July 1, 2018. Target was expected to make a similar move, selling CDs only on consignment. The digital disc was destined to be sold in only a few holdouts such as Walmart, smaller record shops, and of course Amazon. I missed this announcement. https://www.digitaltrends.com/features/the-history-of-the-cds-rise-and-fall/
At the same time as the introduction of the CD and DVD, in October 2001 Apple unleashed a little MP3 player known as the iPod. Twenty years later players can be found in many sizes, shapes, and configurations. Best Products lists their top ten players here. With entries from Sony, FiiO, Sandisc, and of course Apple, these little go-anywhere devices offer incredible sound quality, music on demand where and when you want to hear it. They replaced the big boom boxes from my younger days.
Pandora, the internet music streaming service which began in January 2000, has lost ground to an array of new services: Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, SiriusXM, Tidal, and YouTube Music (which replaced Google Play Music) all offer a selection of add-supported or subscription-based music systems that you can stream to your phone, MP3 player, computer or automobile.
So where does that leave us, those folks who are left holding on to boxes full of movies and music CDs from the past couple of decades? What do we do with the remnants of older technology, not quite obsolete but “quaint,” in the same way that my desktop computer was replaced with a smaller, faster laptop? Do we finally adapt and adopt?
Was there a memo? If so, I think I missed it.