Record my School are always keen to stay abreast of current technology. Nowhere is this more apparent than the gradual switchover between the CD and today’s trend for digital downloads in the music industry.
When we started recording around 15 years ago now, the CD was probably in the middle of its life cycle. But even then back in the early years of the 21st century the MP3 player was the up and coming thing. Apple launched their infamous iPod back in 2001, but contrary to popular belief, Steve Jobs and his Apple techies didn’t invent the MP3 player. A number of companies — including Diamond, Creative Labs, and Sony — were selling their own MP3 players for a few years before the iPod debuted in October 2001.
While there were MP3 players prior to the iPod, none of them had been big hits. This was partly due to price and features. For example, the 1999 Creative Labs Nomad had 32 MB of memory (Not GB! Those 32 MB are enough for about 1 or 2 CDs at low audio quality) and cost around £400! Beyond that, the digital music market was pretty immature. In 2001, there was no iTunes Store, no other download stores like eMusic, and Napster was still pretty new.
Roll forward to 2019 and even the iPod is now starting to be seen as slightly outdated. Apple now only sell the iPod touch and even that is hidden in their website under the music section. Not that long ago the iPod was a key product and right up front. But of course nowadays an iPhone is just as good as having an iPod. The average phone now has 256GB or more of space which is enough for a significant amount of music. Coupled with that, most users nowadays don’t store offline music but turn to online solutions such as Apple Music or Spotify to find their tunes.
For us this creates a bit of a dilemma because ultimately your average primary school album isn’t likely to get onto iTunes. Yes we could make that happen but the cost of putting the album online with iTunes via Apple or one of their aggregators is an expense which holds little value.
Instead we have devised our own solution to the CD versus digital problem. From a school perspective the CD enables them to sell a physical product to parents as opposed to just sending them to a website to download a bunch of tracks. Not only that, we are in the business of creating memories for the pupils, and the staff. Therefore the idea of having some sort of physical product is an essential part of our offering.
Nevertheless, we have to balance this against the increasing number of parents and staff who tell us they no longer have a CD player. So the way we resolve this is to now include access to the digital files with every CD sold. In the booklet with the CD is details of how to access the digital files which means everyone can play the tracks but also the schools get a physical product to sell at their Christmas or Summer Fairs.