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Music in the Digital Age

by The Concordian January 10, 2012

Most music junkies are familiar with names like uTorrent, Xtorrent, Vuze,
The Pirate Bay, isoHunt, and BTjunkie. These torrent-streaming websites
and programs give music listeners the power of easy access to almost any
album, or even discography, on the marker — and for free.
These programs and sites are the ninja-like saboteurs of the music industry,
hitting up every record company in the world, stealing potential revenue at every click of a user’s mouse.
The entrance into the digital age has thrown the music industry into shock.
Most agree that the suit-and-tie types in charge of the business
of music are on shaky ground these days.
But the industry is changing, not dying. Arguably the biggest impact of
the invention of MP3 has been on record labels. The decline in CD sales
hurts even major labels’ profits, but also hurts up-and-coming bands as
One of the main retailers for CDs, HMV, has recently closed stores all over
Canada, including flagship retail locations in downtown Vancouver.
“It’s really regretful,” Nick Williams, president of HMV Canada, told the Vancouver Sun in November 2011.
But Jihan Azer, an HMV employee at the megastore on Ste-Catherine Street, isn’t worried. “Buying media isn’t over just yet,” he said. “Although all of HMV’s direct competitors have gone under, we aren’t even close to closing. Take that, rumour mill!”
The industry is facing evolution, and adapting to our pace of life and technological advances.
According to Azer, “There is still a market for physical copies of music much as there is still a market for paintings, even though anyone today could find a masterpiece online and print it at home.”
“There will always be a market for people who want to buy physical music;
maybe not to the extent of today’s standards, and definitely not
compared to 20 years ago, but still existing somewhere in that limbo,” he said.
Azer has his own collection of CDs. He feels that it’s a more personal
connection to the art and the artist, a feeling he thinks will keep CDs
However, not all music enthusiasts are of the same mind. Sara Lovsin, a dedicated music enthusiast hailing from Vancouver, disagrees.
“Indie stores are going to be the only ones left selling CD or vinyl in the
future,” she said. “Our generation think they’re hip if they own
vinyl—it’s considered classic, retro. I think the next generation will
see CDs in that way.”
Chris Curry, a Vancouver-based drummer, music teacher and DJ, agrees that CDs are on their way out.
“CDs will disappear soon, they already pretty much have,” he said. “Too
many people are pirating, the Internet makes it way too simple.”
This trend predicates that bands need to tour to make money, which makes it
difficult for indie or up-and-coming live bands to break into the
On the flip-side, DJs are making tons of cash. DJing is quite
possibly the most lucrative field in the music industry. Most clubs only play electronic music — that bass-thumpin’, beat-box inspiring, rage in the cage musical nonsense that most parents hate. DJs are quickly taking over, where live bands used to rule.
David Hughes, a guitarist known by his stage name “David Don’t” in The Hypnophonics, a punk band based in Montreal, has done well with his band, but also has a bleak prediction for the fate of record companies.
“The only attraction I see any band having to signing with a label, other
than bragging rights, would be to make use of their connections with
promoters, other bigger bands to tour with and in advertising,” said
Hughes. “My band is signed to a large indie label and we’re distributed
by Warner Music, and as much as our label has helped us out, it isn’t
necessary to be signed anymore in order to tour countries, play big
shows and have people in Japan order t-shirts and CDs from you.”
Retro or contemporary, CDs or MP3s, it’s the fans who dictate the industry. And right now, the fans are getting everything they want. CD and vinyl buffs have great retailers to buy from, and MP3 downloads are simple and easy to find.
As for the record labels, it seems that it’s only getting worse. Both Warner Canada and EMI Music refused to comment.

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