Buying an album is now a courtesy. There’s no NEED for it. Shit, even downloading an album is a courtesy these days. There used to be a need to own an album because of lack of access. Where were you going to hear an artist’s entire album in 1990 if you didn’t buy it or go to the house of a friend who purchased it? Even if you bought a bootleg copy you were still paying for music, just for less than what the major record stores were charging.
When Ipods were first introduced computers weren’t the norm. Most of the people I knew that did have computers didn’t have high speed internet. They were accessing the net through dialup using AOL CD’s they got in the mail. Connection speed was a big issue then, especially if you were trying to stream content like an album or, God forbid, a movie. There was a need to download. First you downloaded songs and burned them to CD to listen to in your Discman which changed to you downloading the songs to dump into your Ipod. This was the way you created on demand access to your favorite songs. You HAD to OWN it, there was a NEED!
Today people are connected to the Internet 24/7 through their Cellphone providers. Seemingly every few months a Cellphone provider is boasting about higher connection speeds; 3G, 4G, etc. The only time someone may find themselves disconnected from the Internet is when they’re in a place where they can’t get cellphone service and where’s that; an elevator or the subway? People have Iphones and Androids with unlimited data plans now. Their phones come with Youtube apps preinstalled on them. If you’re album is streaming on the Internet there’s really no need to own it. Wi-Fi is becoming more and more readily available. Nearly every new mobile device is Wi-Fi equipped enabling people to connect to the web on the go; Kindle, Nook, Ipad, Ipod Touch, etc.
With all the Wi-Fi enabled mobile devices from the Kindle, Nook, and Ipad to Smart phones access is no longer an issue. As a result of unlimited access to music I would bet a million dollars that a research study would find that people are listening more. As I stated in the opening paragraph, with constant “On-Demand” access to music there’s no need for a listener to buy an album. This isn’t a new revelation as people have been discussing the death of music sales for some time (exaggerated or not), but what artists have always been advised to do, is to use the popularity of their music to sell concert tickets, merchandise, and look for licensing opportunities. What’s been overlooked is the monetization of the listening experience. With the proliferation of music streaming services like Spotify, Rdio, MOG, etc. and Youtube and its Partner revenue sharing program artists are being provided with the means to do exactly that.