How many of you remember CD Players? Was yours your favorite color? Did you hide your CDs that had the instantly recognizable “Parental Advisory” sticker on them from your parents? Did u have a zip up case to store them all? All these things were commonplace in the teen and tween world at one point. We took them with us on all car rides and made it a point to keep up with them if we took them somewhere else. But, with the invention of Napster...they faded away. And then the iPod came, which of course completely changed everything. However, between these two inventions, people still bought CDs to get full albums as opposed to just singles. But from Napster soon came...music streaming. And this is how the music streaming world changed forever.
You may or may not remember Napster. Napster was a website that had exactly what it advertised: free downloadable music. Thousands, maybe even millions of people used the service and no longer had to wait for a CD or the iTunes library to get an album. At first it seemed like a great idea...until the lawsuits began. However, this did not stop multiple other sites that offered the exact same thing from popping up all over the internet. Though some like to nitpick about it, the act of downloading music online for free is essentially “stealing” it. In order to “control” this, the government decided to make it illegal but, to be honest, I know multiple people (and I’m sure you do too) who have done it multiple times and their houses were not raided by the FBI! Still, this was only the first step into the reality of how the internet completely changed music.
Before “Downloads and Streams” counted toward an artist's eligibility to be on Billboard Charts, they solely relied on sales of their physical CDs. Now, artists just release their singles on services such as Spotify and even though it is free for most, the artist still makes money through this. And, each time the song is played/streamed, it counts towards the artist’s credibility. With so many services out there, sometimes (actually most of the time) artists will only release their song or entire album on one streaming service. Of course this results in the artists being paid more by the service and even results in more subscribers to the service. The most recent time this happened was with Kanye West’s "The Life of Pablo" album, which he made a Tidal exclusive. This resulted in the amount of subscribers more than doubling practically overnight.
Personally, I still buy CDs. Things like album art and song credits are important to me, so I like to have something I can actually hold. However, I still buy the digital version so I can listen to it on my phone, as I do not own a CD player! Artists often sell packages that include the CD with other merchandise on their websites, but only the dedicated fan would know about this. Yes, I believe CDs will one day be obsolete, sadly, but I am not the only one who thinks this. I leave you with the hook to the appropriately titled song "R.I.P. C.D." by Flatbush Zombies:
“R.I.P. to the CD can't even play my hits
Cause new computer shit without the means to play the shit
We love to boost the speed
We love the memory
It got me feeling like we nothing like we used to be.”