Music as product – where do we go from here?

I’m not sure whether music can be called as product. But what I do know is that I’m a consumer of music, and as a consumer I like to have some degree of choice over where I obtain music, what I pay for it (if anything), and what I can do with it once I own it.

The main models of obtaining music are:

1/ Going to a record shop and buying CDs or vinyl. I do this one very rarely, largely because it is usually the most expensive.

2/ Buying the same records or CDs online (usually from Amazon). This was my main method of buying music until I ran out of space to store it.

3/ Paying a set amount of money per album or per song to download DRM protected files (usually from iTunes in my case). It’s convenient, usually cheaper than buying a CD, but there are issues regarding what can and can’t be done with the music afterwards. I’ve bought a fair bit this way, but will probably not buy much more as my Mac (the only computer I use iTunes on) nears the end of it’s life.

4/ As 3, but without the DRM. I’m currently trying out as an alternative to iTunes, and they certainly have enough music I want to make my 2 week trial worthwhile and possibly to consider a subscription. The only downside is that you pay £10.99 a month whether you download songs or not. I don’t ever see myself not downloading music, but you never know.

5/ As 3, but without the DRM or the cost. This covers sites like Jamendo, and artists who release on a “pay what you like” model. I’m a big fan of this, but not everyone I like does it, and I need more than this sometimes (although did download only free music for 2 months earlier this year and did not die or explode).

6/ Peer-to-peer sharing of music files (or copying music for friends). It’s a valid option, but not something I do a great deal of in general or would like to condone too much.

I’ve done all of these in the past, and I think a happy medium is probably the way forward. As is getting a very large hard drive to store music on before I actually run out of space. 160gb sounded like a lot 3 years ago, but if I continue to acquire digital music at the rate I am then I’ll run out of space in months rather than years.