With the impressive proliferation of digital music downloading and streaming services over the past ten to fifteen years, music has never been more instantly accessible than it is right now. Indeed, the ways that we discover, sample, listen, purchase, and share music have rapidly evolved during the 21st century, thanks in large part to exciting advances in technology and the innovative ideas of entrepreneurial minds around the world.
But these advances in music consumption have not arrived without some compromises to the listening experience. Fading are the days when people purchase full albums and listen to them all the way through from beginning to end. Instead, the ability to sort and skip through millions of songs, song fragments and playlists right at our fingertips now reigns supreme, presumably exacerbating our collective attention deficit disorder in the process.
NPR Music’s Robin Hilton suggests that “The whole world is one gigantic mix tape, now” where “we can hear pretty much any song we want, by any artist, in any order, any time we want, anywhere.” Nielsen’s recently released 2015 U.S. Music Year-End Report corroborates the phenomenon, as audio streaming increased 83% last year, while album sales (digital and physical) declined for another year at the rate of -6%, though the remarkable 30% increase in vinyl album sales is a promising sign.
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