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RIP Compact Disc

Mollie Carberry


When scrolling down their iTunes libraries last Tuesday, something caught the eye of thousands of unwitting individuals between the Ts and the Vs. A U2 album? No one had any recollection of buying U2’s latest offering, ‘Songs of Innocence’. And that is simply because, they hadn’t.

The latest in a long line of gimmicky attempts by artists to boost publicity, U2 and Apple have joined forces and automatically downloaded the album into everybody’s iTunes library. And then made it incredibly difficult to delete. It all seems a little desperate (and extremely intrusive), but perhaps expected of an ageing band suffering with mid-life crises and struggling to cling to their last shreds of relevance.

However, this is something that is becoming a prevalent issue. Musicians are shunning traditional ways of selling their music, in favour of more bizarre and questionable methods. Alt-J have created an app called ‘This Is All Yours’, to stream their album of the same name. On the surface, this sounds like an innovative new way to make their music more accessible and free with a nod to the ever-growing dominance of the iPhone. However, you have to be in a certain postcode to be able to stream the album, and of course you have to own an iPhone. So really, it’s not that accessible at all.

This is not a suddenly developing craze, either. Five years ago, Radiohead’s ‘In Rainbows’ was an ominous sign of things to come. The ‘Honesty Box’ concept, which allowed fans to choose how much they paid for the album, had headlines screaming that Radiohead were ‘devaluing music’ and ‘ruining the chances of smaller artists by making music seem worthless’. Although those statements perhaps seem a little extreme, are they really so far from the truth?

The joy that a generation felt at putting their very first compact disc into their Walkman is a thing of the distant past. Downloading music via Youtube-mp3 sites and listening for free on Soundcloud and Spotify is now entirely the norm. Spotify streaming figures are now included in the official charts, highlighting how the focus has shifted from purchasing tangible copies to simply clicking and listening.

It seems that the value is now being placed on making music free and accessible, which is all very lovely and idealistic, but perhaps doesn’t leave the future looking very bright for the artists that rely on sales for their income. With even One Direction jumping on the bandwagon by giving their new single away for free, expect to see copious strange methods employed to entice you into listening to new music. And you really might as well throw away that old CD player you cling on to for nostalgia’s sake. It will soon be as redundant as your old VHS player.