Day 80 – Optical Media is Dead

by Dan


About 5 years ago, a friend of mine told me that “optical media is dead”. By optical media he meant CD’s, DVD’s, BluRay, games etc. Apparently within a few years we would all be streaming our tv, music, movies and games over the Internet and there would be no more need for physical discs.

Whilst I didn’t disagree with him, I was aware that technology would have to move on a long way before this was a reality. Anyone who still comes out in a sweat at the mere mention of the word “buffering” will know what I mean! Well, technology has moved on. It’s still not perfect, but on a good WiFi connection you can stream all of these things, and on 3G it’s just about usable for music and video provided the compression is sufficient.

Concurrently with technology getting better, my music collection has become more complicated. I have stacks of CD’s, some of which I’ve ripped into iTunes and some of which isn’t. I’ve also got a number of albums I’ve purchased through iTunes but don’t have on CD. Increasingly I often seem not to have the right album in the right format for when I want it, and if I want to buy new music I find myself torn between CD and download.

Recently I’ve been playing with Spotify. If you haven’t come across it then it is a website and mobile app that enables you to access music from the whole of its vast iTunes-like library. You can stream it, or on the premium service you can download it to your computer or device for offline listening. You can create playlists and share them with your friends. The service ranges from free for streaming only access, to the cost of 1 CD per month for all the bells and whistles including offline listening and playlists.

I downloaded the app to my iPad, used the 48 hour free trial, and fell in love with it. The range of music I can now access is incredible, and the streaming quality is very good. The download feature is the icing on the cake for me, as I can listen no matter how lousy the data signal. Most recently, I have been using it to listen to a sample of music from each of the artists appearing at a music festival I am going to next month so that I know who to go and see. I even find myself using it for music that I own in another format.

This last fact is the one that has sealed it for me. From today, for music at least, optical media is dead. No more buying CD’s, I will exclusively use Spotify from now on. More music, less hassle!