Deutsche Grammophon launched its music download service in 2007, and I bought two titles to see how the user experience compared to other such services. I ended up really liking both albums — Osvaldo Golijov’s Oceana and Emerson String Quartet’s American Originals — so I bought them on CD.
Then I realized I fell for the classic trick of the music industry — make consumers buy titles multiple times between different formats.
It reminded me of the late ’80s, when I moved from vinyl to cassette tape, then finally to CD. At first I thought I would dub my vinyl albums to blank cassette, so that I may listen to them on my Walkman. (Remember those?) But I ended up buying pre-recorded cassettes because the sound quality was better than what my aging boombox could capture. Then I got a CD player, and the dubbing option became moot.
With each format change, the question remains the same — what makes the leap to the new format and what doesn’t? It applies as much to new purchases as to catalog.