This one has been shaping up for a while, but check out how trend prognosticator Peter Sealey sees this one going:
Apple is selling five million iPods each quarter. I walk to the U.C. Berkeley campus where I teach and I swear that everybody I see has white earplugs in their ears. What are they going to do at Clear Channel Communication, or Infinity Broadcasting? How would you like to be in the radio business today? “It is all part of a shift from mass media to personalized media,” Paul Saffo from the Institute for the Future said. And, it is going to be the death of the music CD. We know it now: the music CD is going. The record labels have to understand that people are going to have their recorded music for free. Trying to sell CDs at seventeen ninety-five is all over. You are going to sell some downloadable music legally, but the CD is dead as a medium. And, the record labels have to understand, the profit in the future is not going to come off selling shiny discs but in public performance and merchandising. Those things plus the accoutrements of live entertainment where the money is going to be made in recorded music.
The answer for radio is, of course, to make its content personalizable and controllable. Under that scenario, there’s no one I’d like to be more than Clear Channel or Infinity – if they have the content at hand.
As for the Saffo quote on the future of the CD, is there anyone at the labels who truly understands the obviousness of this?
When we marvel at the ability of Starbucks to power a CD to the top of the charts, what we’re really seeing is the CD as convenience purchase, like a pack of gum at the supermarket. This has nothing to do with anything. Unless the labels decide to stock one or two CD’s at every checkout counter at every store in America, they had better wake up and smell the future.