My answer to the question: why it matters?

A journalist tweeted me : “I did not know Itunes needed packaging…”

As you would expect from a very famous and smart journalist, the tweet was to the point, a very good reflection on the overall feeling regarding the “revolution ” in music packaging.

Obviously, I tried to be as witty and as to the point and failed miserably in my Twitter answer. Yes, that’s why I am not a journalist and ok, I will stick to the day job… But the more I thought about my failure to articulate the point, the more feel that I need to answer this quite wide-spread point of  view. Why, nowadays, anyone would care about CDs? It’s SO out and over!

This is actually why the physical music business is in such a mess nowadays, even music professionals share this view, they gave up before even trying. I know it, I was one of them!

In fact, the music industry has been like a rabbit in the headlights since the start of the digital era. They have been panicking and trying to embrace (and more to the point “make money”) with the new format. To do so, they have been shifting their best people and all their investment to the digital segment. They killed the CD before anybody asked!

In the meantime, the price of oil is going up, space is getting scarce in shops and more importantly, consumers are getting more and more environmentally conscious.

So, what is music industry? Nothing! Not surprising that sales are declining by 10 % year on year.

10% only! Why not more? And why are young people buying more and more vinyl? How come sales only go down by 10% every year when space dedicated to music is reduced by nearly 20%? Nowadays, the only way to buy your CD is via Amazon, next to a download that you can have immediately and people are still getting delivered? Strange! I am not arguing against the benefit of digital music, it is much more convenient in many respects. Downloading is the modern way to access music in a car, or….pretty much anywhere, but as human beings, we also like to own, and to collect, so can we still do that please?

So, to come back to the green argument, true, the best way to get rid of plastic packaging and all the cost associated with it, is to download instead. But what if you actually like having a CD? Is is wrong? No, because the only real way to be 100% impact free on our planet is to disappear. In real life, being socially responsible involves compromise: minimising our impact while still living and existing.

The industry and eco-friendly music lovers are praying for the end of the ugly plastic CD, but mortal people are still buying them, still adding 20 000 tons of polystyrene to our lovely planet every year (without even counting blu-ray or DVDs).

While most our energy and creativity is devoted to digital and rightly so, our little friend, the CD and its ugly companion the Jewel Box, are still part of our day to day life, and we can do a little something for the planet without trying to impose an alternative solution.

I call what we are doing a “revolution in music packaging”:  I am conscious it is a very narrow improvement,  but it’s one still worth tackling as there is no negative impact or need to change our habits, just a small gesture for the planet.


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