Monday, June 10, 2013

Do You Hoard Media You Can't Play?

Hands up if you have a collection of vinyl, or even cassettes and don’t have the decks and equipment to play them on. Maybe you have VHS tapes, but no VHS player, or even eight track tapes and no eight track player.

A survey by UK electronics retailer Maplin has found that UK men still have their collections of older media in their homes, even though they don’t have the equipment to play these disappearing media formats. Some 45% still have cassettes, but no cassette deck, 47% vinyl singles and LPs but no turntable. Again some 20% have photographic slides but no viewer or projector.

However, more interesting is that some 75% admitted to having collections of music they never play and photographs and files they never look at. Are we a nation of hoarders, or do we just see equipment as a disposable and content as something we must keep just in case? Is it just that we all spent huge sums and time building up these libraries that reflected our taste at the time and do not want to let go of those memories.

Maplin also found that over 66% of those surveyed would like to be able to transfer old stuff to an up-todate format but lacked the time or the know-how.

In a few years time will we be saying the same about those ebooks we bought and were tied to devices or heavily restricted by DRM? Colin Powell has openly admitted to buying more ebooks than he has read and again once read how many every reread the book?

Contrary to the survey, we are pleased we have a significant vinyl collection and the equipment to enjoy it on, we do have cassette decks but no longer have cassette tapes. We have ripped the vast majority of our CD music library to digital files, but now have a Laptop, which like many, came with no CD although we do have an external one. We own some VHS and DVD tapes but also have VHS and DVD players. We also have a significant library of physical books and some Kindle ebooks which can be played on many devices. However, the majority of our media library is rarely played. Only last night my wife spent time photographing old college photos so we could post them on facebook for a reunion.

This useful survey highlights a number of interesting points about all media and our usage and archive of it in a digital age.

The first point would seriously question why we continue buy digital media and why it’s not made available on-demand, on subscription or on a pay to play basis? This opportunity is why LoveFilm, Netflix, Spotify, Pandora and others have huge potential to change our culture.

Secondly, any file or media that is tied to a specific technology is destined to have a limited life. This is fact and the early media files that were tied to a service, or device, are now potentially dead files. However, whilst they are still current we should be able to resell the files through an authentication broker which not only creates further value but could also generate new revenues for artists.

Thirdly, although upgrade services and devices exist these need to be better promoted by retailers and the industry itself, who could benefit from the improved customer contact and after-sales service.

We live in a market which is geared to forcing us to re-invest in technology on a cyclical basis. To buy the latest, smartest and hippest technology and throw out the old. Many reinvested in their music when the CD replaced vinyl and their VHS videos when DVD arrived but that retail trick can only be done so many times and once media is capture digitally it’s often easier to transfer it to new formats. Perhaps the biggest threat to digital files being upward compatible today is not devices but DRM?

1 comment:

Mike McNamara said...

Interesting post, as always. Never got into 8 Track, but do have originals on Cassette, VHS & Vinyl and the devices to still play them. I even have a 78 deck for my father's old Acetate records!

I've started to move some of them to a digital archive including 35mm slides, but I will still keep the originals (and the devices) as they are the real history of the collection.

By the way, yes my wife does call me a hoarder!