Threatened By The Internet? Music Biz Should Rock Like Librarians

Quinn has posted a great article on his site (I've bolded the really fascinating part below):

At the risk of jinxing things – I think it’s
pretty clear that there’s a historic shift underway between activities
we used to engage in offline and things we now do online. It’s no
surprise, for example, that CD saleswere down 20% this US holiday season while online shopping was up 19%. That’s how it works, right? People are moving from one marketplace to another, more virtual one.

Another dataset released this weekend, however, paints a more complex picture. According to the newest study from the Pew Internet and American Life Center –
the youngest, most affluent and most internet-connected adults in the
US are also the most likely to visit a physical library.
It wasn’t that
way just 10 years ago. How many
other legacy industries can you think of today that can say their
strongest growth is among young, affluent, power-internet users?
 Something is going very right in library land. The music business ought to pay close attention to what’s going on there.”

Comments 4

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    Yeah, they're coming in for the non-print media.
    Seriously. I'm shocked at how many CD's circulate – we have a LOT at our branch. Not so shocked at the number of DVD's that go out (I swear, we have better selection than Blockbuster). And floored at how many Videos are still circulating – considering the SPL system no longer even collects videos.
    Call me a cynic, but I think that the younger patrons are making use of the library for these items because they understand the technology to rip, burn, and copy music and video files. Would YOU buy a new CD if you could borrow it for free, for like 3 weeks, copy it or convert it to MP3 format, and then return it? Nope. Me neither.
    I could be wrong. Maybe the “youth” that the article speaks of is reading and borrowing books. I'd like to think so. But it's not really what I'm seeing in my small corner of the world.
    I guess the real question is: does it matter WHAT people are borrowing, as long as they're using the library?

    Posted 02 Jan 2008 at 11:55 pm
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Further, there is no reason why a library has to be the place that doles out books, and only books. I see the library as a service, and a free one, that provides all sorts of things, books being only a physically large but relatively unimportant aspect. Perhaps these youth are coming in and reading a magazine, browsing the web for their latest political Facebook group, and then grabbing their favourite Jay-Z album to rip, remix, and return. Not only is the library a place relatively free from commodification (a “public sphere” if you go in for that Habermasian stuff), it is the bedrock of exploration in all its manifestations: intellectual, physical, sexual, social, etc. Getting young people in the door not only keeps us librarians in champagne, but it provides a necessary function for a healthy society.

    Posted 03 Jan 2008 at 7:36 am
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    A few random thoughts…
    – I know one library system where nearly half of their circulation is made up of DVD's and other media items. I suspect you'd see that in most public libraries to varying degrees (as you're seeing at your system.)
    – I think I've mentioned that idea I came across in library school of how they do it in France – they have biblioteques which are like traditional libraries and mediateques which are like the new whiz bang version with all the DVD's, computers, etc. Sometimes they're in the same building, sometimes they're completely separate buildings.
    – as you say, the ultimate question is “what is a library for?” It's tough to think that books are no longer the priority or the focus but in our media-saturated, visual literacy-geared world, this may be the new reality.

    Posted 09 Jan 2008 at 4:23 pm
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    I forgot to address Barb's point about young people rip, remixing and returning so I'll do that here. Maybe there's a mid-level of kid who's technologically savvy enough to rip a CD but not technologically savvy-enough (or more likely, equipped at home) to download directly which I think is probably the more common route to getting free music and movies these days (spoken as someone who used to spend *hours* copying CD's, cassettes and even LP's borrowed from the library.)
    I read something recently that pointed out there are really only two places left in society that are “relatively free of commodification” to use your phrase – the library and the church. And I know where I'm going to go to get my faith on!

    Posted 09 Jan 2008 at 4:27 pm
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