Welcome to 2012! As we all know, the Mayan calendar tells us the world will come to an end on the 21st of December. And, if you can’t trust a long-dead civilization that was still at the human sacrifice stage to predict astronomical events, what can you trust? So, if you were holding out on that grand audio system purchase, you better not hold out for too long.
It seems 2012 is a big year for prophecy. Another cataclysmic prophecy has been circulating that t’internet for a few months; Side-Line, an online music magazine announced that major labels would abandon CD by the end of 2012. While this column didn’t come with a whole lot of ‘on the record’ confirmation and the only source cited directly was the editor of the site (who, presumably, wasn’t too upset at the increased site traffic such a statement might bring), it did quickly
respawn, with even hard news agencies citing it as a reference. In fairness to the Side-Line author, getting someone to confirm or deny such a rumour in a major label is a Herculean task, and you end up with a lot of
crisply pressed ‘no comment’ statements.
Having viewed CD’s downward trend, and extrapolating wildly, my take on this is CD will account for roughly one-third of all music sales worldwide by the end of 2012. This hides trends within that trend (as in, what sort of music is sold on CD, and to whom), but remains a fairly conservative (here’s that word again) prediction. Which makes me think Side-Line’s own crystal ball gazing is – probably – right about the major labels dropping CD, but – probably – too quick to kill off the format by the end of this year. Perhaps. Maybe.
A quietly stated Apple aim (before the passing of Steve Jobs) was to drop optical disc from the Apple line altogether by 2015, and that statement might well become fact if it was one of Jobs’ bequests to the company. Irrespective of whether Apple is as much of a force to be reckoned with in 2015, that figure still looms large in optical disc’s future.
One thing is clear. If you only use CD today and intend to continue to buy music for the coming decade, there’s a strong possibility one day you will be faced with having to either buy a download, or not buy at all. Worse, with the high-resolution lossless download infrastructure at best half-cocked, the chances of buying the file in anything other than lossy compressed form may not be guaranteed.
I fear this is the big question no audiophile is daring to ask themselves. I predict it will be the elephant in the listening room before the decade is out. Assuming the Mayans got it wrong, of course!
Alan Sircom, Editor Hi-Fi+