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Music: Physical or digital?

Music can be listened to on anything these days. Mostly digitally. It wasn't always like this though.


The first consumer way of listening to music was vinyl or so-called phonograph records. They were used for around 100 years until CDs came along. People didn't immediately switch to CDs, but they started getting more popular. Everyone was amazed since it was way easier to use than vinyl records. Through the CDs people downloaded music from websites that other people had posted on the internet and listened to music illegally through their computers. Music streaming services most likely became a thing because of this since it was extremely illegal to download music for free. Spotify came along in 2006, but became way more popular in the 2010’s. Apple Music came out in 2015, which is quite late compared to Spotify. Most of the world doesn't really use CDs that much anymore, but they are still quite popular in Japan, since Japan has the most music stores in the world and people there use CDs mostly because a lot of the CD’s come from album bundles.

Many people collect music. In a physical way, of course, I’m sure no one is bragging about their playlist, but people collect vinyl records. It is a nice way of showing off the music you like. Collecting vinyl also needs a player. There are some nice ones you can get for around 20€, but the higher quality ones are extremely expensive. It’s also a great decoration. Usually when someone collects vinyls they are shown off sideways in shelves, but if you don't have as many you can show them with the cover. So if you feel like your room is missing something, try to find the albums you like in vinyl and then look:

It looks really nice! Vinyl records have had a rise in popularity in the last ten years. Some even being completely sold out because of the underestimation of vinyl records, since the song publishers think that they’re not as popular these days. Vinyl records do have slightly worse audio quality than CDs or digital listening and it has that crackling sound that some people find satisfying. Another one of these supposed alternative ways of listening to music is on an old game console released in 1989 called the game boy. A musician based in Hamburg called Remute released a 15 song album for the game boy that’s called Living Electronics. It’s quite special since no one else has done that before. It was just a regular game cartridge where he released the album so the game card wasn’t adjusted from the inside in any way. What's the next obscure music idea going to be? There's so many possibilities. In the future people are going to come up with way more creative ways to listen to music and it's going to be so much crazier.

Image from NME

So, what’s the answer to this article's question? It’s digital. Digital music is better compared to physical because it’s more portable and also much cheaper. Vinyl records are something you can mostly play at home, but CDs are slightly portable. But if you do want to make your vinyl portable then be prepared for it to look like an origami. In the current year we use just streaming services to listen to music, but maybe in the future there will be a brand new way of doing it. We’ll see.


Text: Nooa Tanskanen Images: Viola Murtomaa


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