Steve Jobs movie biopic was recently released state side to positive reviews, and is one film I am eagerly anticipating this side of the pond. To get myself in the mood I re watched another industry leader’s Hollywood life adaptation, Mark Zuckerberg and ‘The Social Network’. Although I enjoyed, for the third time, the whole film one particular scene struck a chord with me this time around. Sean Parker, co-founder of music streaming site Napster, is having drinks with a starry eyed Zuckerberg and pitching ideas for Facebook (at that point just getting started) whilst validating his own credentials that he is someone who should be listened to ‘I brought down the record companies with Napster.’
Although a bit presumptuous, the record industry has undeniably shifted in the way it gets its product to the consumer as a result of the emergence of Napster. If we look back at the music industries beginnings Vinyl’s were what mum and dad were purchasing and jiving to in the disco halls and youth clubs of the time, then came along my generation who were spoilt for choice with the option of both Cassette tapes or Compact Discs (to give them their formal title). We would trudge down to the local music shop, such as your HMV or Virgin Megastore, and buy the latest CD or Tape offering. Fast forward to today and the new generation have grown up with Bluetooth and file sharing sites such as Itunes and Spotify, born out of the emergence of Napster which acted as a pre cursor. Although the courts ruled against the legality of Napster the record companies knew the way the industry was heading was online and instead of admit defeat, they started regulating it. If you can’t beat them, join them!
A similar development was appearing in the Film industry with the setting up of The Pirate Bay website which, like Napster, was taken to court. The big studios hurriedly signed agreements with online providers to screen their content such as Netflix which have forced movie rental stores into closure (Blockbuster) and mail order companies (Love Film) to rethink their business model.
Now, maybe inevitably, the same thing is happening in the book publishing world with paper backs and hard backs being replaced by the Amazon Kindle, capable of storing 3500 books (based on 1mb per book) which is more than what my local library holds! Averaging a book a day this would take over 9 years to read them all at which point the hardware may have had its day and I don’t think anywhere offers that length of warranty. If I sound a little condescending I apologise, I can take loaning my music from Spotify, I can put up with streaming movies from Netflix, but I don’t fancy reading from a computer screen when I’ve spent all day at work doing the same thing.
So after finishing The Social Network my thoughts turned to the future, have we come as far as we can? Will we go retro and bring back CDs? Whatever new developments surface, history has proven its better to embrace them instead of block them!