iTunes Is the (Friendly) Borg

Apple now claims that iTunes is the top seller of music in the United States.

Apple on Thursday announced that the iTunes Store is now the number one music retailer in the U.S., beating out Wal-Mart. The figures come from data published by the NPD Group.

Nearly a decade ago, I was working at dot-com when the name Napster started being thrown around. That’s when I realized that kids then, as now, see music as a file on a computer. As a 37-year-old Gen-Xer, I’m part of the last group of people who bought LPs. I still use the term “record,” though contrary I do not miss the crackles and pops of LPs or the hisses of their more portable brethren, cassette tapes. (Sorry, you vinyl lovers, you can proclaim the audio superiority of analog LPs all you want. But the fact is that LPs deteriorate horribly. I’ll believe in their sonic superiority when there’s a movement among classical and opera aficionados from CDs to LPs.

In a previous article it was noted,

Legal downloads from online retailers like iTunes now account for 10 percent of the total music acquired in the US. The number of people buying online music increased five million to 29 million this year over last.

According to NPD, sales growth was largely driven by consumers age 36 to 50.

That would be people like me who now rarely buy CDs. From iTunes I buy the songs I want from an album, or only the albums of artists I really like, or sometimes the occasional song or album that I never replaced in CD version from an LP. But only for rock and other forms of pop music. For opera or classical it’s only CDs for me. The compression in the AAC and MP3 files cuts out way too much of the range. Besides, no one should be subjected to a blunted version of Anna Netrebko singing “Sempre Libera.”


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