Top of the Pops Before Hitting the Shops
It’s so good that my website is more than a biography of my favorite performers and singers, for Top of the Pops Before Hitting the Shops, is just an example of what else you can find.
It was only a matter of time before cyberspace prevailed in the music industry …
‘Crazy‘ by Gnarls Barkley made history by becoming the Number One song in theUnited Kingdom‘s singles charts without one CD being available in stores. Over31,000 legal downloads were compiled after the song was featured on BBC‘s RadioOne.
Among other things, that would rank the song right up there as the ultimateimpulse buy.
To be accurate, ‘Crazy‘ won this distinction because of a recent amendment to theBritish music industry‘s rule that a song‘s download couldn’t count against itssales until it became available in stores. However, the point has been made that,just as digital discs replaced tapes and records in personal music consumption,the torch has now been passed to digital transfers.
PC World noted this eventuality in its January 2006 issue, noting that musicdownload sales tripled in 2005. That accounted for six percent of the musicindustry‘s sales for the year, impressive in that it also signifies a dent in thenumber of pirated tracks. Figures released by the International Federation of thePhonographic Industry— the authoritative source— revealed a tally of $1.1billion in download sales during the year.
Gnarls Barkley‘s digital achievement came just over a month after another cyber-landmark was attained. The billionth download in iTunes history occurred in lateFebruary 2006, when a Michigan teen ordered Coldplay‘s ‘Speed of Sound‘ for thesum of 99 cents. That price is yet another reason why singles— almost eradicatedby the trend toward albums in the 1970s— are back, and in a big way.
And to think that the music industry spent the early years of the Cyber Era tryingto deny, or at least discourage, its existence.
Perhaps finally realizing that such a tactic didn’t work for blacksmiths at theturn of the last century, the recording moguls— albeit grudgingly— sought tolearn from the new technology. The key to their success to date is their seemingawareness that their objective is to find their niche in the cybermarket, ratherthan attempt to dominate it. Granted, it‘s a mega-niche, but the industryapparently accepts that it will no longer be the lone gateway between artist andconsumer.
Retailers, for example, are beginning to capitalize on the social aspects of musicpurchases. There will always be teens, and congregating for music is a long-standing trait of theirs. When it‘s in the malls or on Main Street, the majorchains are preparing to offer kiosks where downloads can be purchased on-site.With their vast inventories of stock, these stores present an ideal means ofsearching for songs, sampling them and then sharing opinions, which perfectlydescribes the normal buying habits of both teens and tweens (ie– the 9-to-12 set).
Verizon is on the front lines for the mobile niche of music retailing with itsVCast technology. This service transforms the wireless phone into a portable musicplayer by synchronizing music already stored on the user‘s PC. It can also be usedto buy new songs or albums from the Verizon Wireless music catalog, which isaccessed via cellular phone or PC.
Quality of sound for music downloads continues to improve exponentially, whichfurther increases the attractiveness of downloads. FXSound is on the cutting edgein this respect with its critically acclaimed DFX Audio Enhancement package.Compatible with virtually every major music platform, from MP3s to Internet radio,DFX is trumpted as “the first plug-in to make truly professional-quality audioprocessing available to Internet audio users.“ They do this by restoring the fullrange of frequency harmonics, thus creating the auspices of a high-end home musicsystem. Its effects are amazing.
Where Gnarls Barkley has gone, legions will follow. Cyber-dominance in the musicindustry is now a hard fact, so the real top has yet to be popped.