Digital Music InnovationMay 04
From uncompressed WAV audio format of the Compact Disk to highly compressed MP3’s to lossless audio formats, digital audio has seen its fair share of transformation, sometimes it is radical change, but most of the time it is incremental change with little addition or in other words an up gradation was happening was happening. Many of us won’t recognize that the main source of music consumption has shifted from analog to digital very incrementally. From magnetic tapes to audio CD’s to MP3 players to iPods and now smartphones everything in audio industry has shifted towards the digital platform in the favor of convenience and easy availability.
The progression of music from analog (magnetic tapes) to digital formats (for iPod and MP3 players) seems like a natural progression, but behind every step of progression there was endless research and innovation. The digital audio might be easy to transfer and safe for future usage, but the idea behind high quality audio file, there was years of research and through that research and efforts the digital audio file became a reality. The progression didn’t stop there after development of the audio formats there come the problem of distribution of that file to the end users. Distribution of audio files seams straight forward task but when the variables of piracy and copyright come into play all concerns of convenient went out of the window.
From the early start there was many websites and peer-to-peer sharing software’s that distributed the audio files illegally and caused major damages to the music industry through which efforts the digital formats came into being. The problem was at hand and a creative solution was required to overcome this problem. In 1998 Apple Computer announced iTunes, a digital platform where users can buy digital music directly from Apple and can save the file locally in their computer, iPods or can keep their files online for later consumption. The idea was user will pay one-time fee for a song and can enjoy it for the rest of their life. The idea was so successful that it created a revolution in the digital audio industry and spawned many more digital audio distribution industries based on same principle.
At the end the whole idea was innovative but not properly executed hence whole formula was disrupted. The key aspect of any innovation is “Innovation = Invention x Commercialization”. The idea and innovation was there, but lacked the commercialization part which Apple catered to perfectly and now in 2015 the digital music industry just beat down the physical music industry and in coming year’s trends will continue to go in favor of digital music.
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