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January 07, 2013

Digital Music in 2013: What's Coming Up?

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

Digital music is a major force in the entertainment marketplace. With MP3 players being close to ubiquitous thanks to their regular appearance in smartphones, as well as their more conventional versions being both inexpensive and widely available, a lot more people are going digital in music. But what does 2013 hold for the digital music scene? Reports from SRV Network's Karl Volkman says that the picture is looking very bright for those who favor digital music.

Getting hands on digital music is easier now than it's been in some time. Between YouTube and Vevo, the waterfront is covered in terms of music videos, both officially sanctioned and fan-made. Music itself comes from Spotify (News - Alert), Pandora and a host of others. Audirvana and iTunes make organization a breeze, and even Google's (News - Alert) been seen getting involved.

The music that's been coming available, meanwhile, has been of progressively better quality. Digital to analog converters have been helping for some time now, but that technology is now coming available to normal users with things like the AudioQuest Dragonfly. At $249, the Dragonfly plugs into a standard USB port and converts digital to analog to improve sound quality. Further improvements in the listening experience are offered from Beats by Dr. Dre headphones offer sound quality on par with any studio at $199, and the PAL BT (News - Alert) from Tivoli Audio offers music from any Bluetooth-enabled device thanks to a set of high-end speakers attached.

Needless to say, this is going to put a lot of pressure on the concept of the CD. What sense in the old method of bundling music together for those who only want certain songs, when certain songs by themselves are now easily available? Sure, there will always be those who want an entire album, but downloading it and burning it to a CD is just as easy, for those with CD players. For those who stick to a wholly digital means of consuming music, there are plenty of alternatives as listed above, and many more besides.

The rise of mobile technology has also fueled the growth of digital music; when even an MP3 player can access the Internet, getting in on Spotify and Pandora (News - Alert), or even YouTube, it's clear that online music consumption will rise to match. While piracy is still a concern, the evidence suggests that music pirates may well be better friends to the music industry than expected, with file sharers actually buying more music than those who don't share.

More sources of digital music, more means to play digital music, and more technology to make the entire experience even better adds up to a combination that's heavily weighted in favor of digital music. The move from CDs to digital sources is likely to carry on in earnest, and that's going to bring plenty of changes in its own right. What will we see for digital music in 2013? Only time will tell, but it's likely to be heavy on the digital side.



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