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CD ripping, digital music, music streaming, iPod / iTunes / Sonos - various thoughts, suggestions, ideas, odd ramblings ….

The End of Personal Collection

Well, for over fifteen years we've been collecting CDs in person. Now, no longer. Why?

When we started you could get to pretty much any London address in around an hour. Clients appreciated the evening collection slot and that usually was around 19:00. Hour there, collect, 45 to 60 minutes back. It worked well. Today, you can't get anywhere in our collection area in less than 90 minutes, often much longer. Plus people are getting home from work much later so we're being asked to arrive at 19:30 or later. That get's one of us back home at 21:30 or later.

Driving is much more worrying. I don't think I'm the world's best driver but I've been forced to invest in dashcams because if the many, many near misses had turned into a real crash no insurance company would have believed my side of the story. Driving in the present climate has become very stressful and talking to friends and neighbours there are too many stories of accidents with uninsured idiots.

Amazon and Prime. When we started nobody trusted mail or courier services. Things have improved enormously thanks to the reliability of people such as Amazon. When we started mailing CDs was inconceivable, now we know from our sister service mp3bymail that people can and will mail CDs from all over the world.

All this brings two strands together. On the one hand clients no longer feel there's no alternative to personal collection, on the other it's become more onerous than we can handle. 

iTunes Music Store?

In the world of Apple there are rumours, "fake news" and all sorts of fanciful speculation. It's been that way ever since I've been using Apple computers so I hesitate before I respond. Remember, I'm the person confidently forecasting a super-giant iPod Classic running on solid state memory and that's no more likely today than when I first suggested it a decade ago.

So I've hesitated before saying this. Deep breath, here goes - Apple will shutter iTunes Music Store by the end of this year.

That will be it. No more 79p tracks and £7-99 albums. No more chance of U2 suddenly being foist upon you. The buy button will be no more.

What does this mean? Well, anything you've bought will continue to be playable. At the moment if you suffer a data corruption you can re-download purchases from Apple. I've not seen any suggestion on how that could be handled. My suspicion is that if you corrupt your local copy, that will be it.

For a while there have been two levels of cloud service. One, where your music is loaded to their cloud and you can access that either on the go or from a remote location. My guess is that will end. The second is access to the iTunes catalogue as a streaming music service similar to Spotify. My expectation is that will continue with the first type of account being encouraged to upgrade / spend more to get unlimited access.

The impact on you? Mostly I don't think people will notice. The first cloud option wasn't massively popular and was a trifle user-hostile. Younger consumers have been educated to expect all-you-can-eat music streaming services. You can access these on the ubiquitous iPhone so they'll sail on quite happily.

If you used Apple to "buy" music then indeed you'll be hit, but very few people I've come across do that any longer. Should you want to purchase music in future there's always Amazon who might benefit from a sales boost.

Personally it helps us, people who love music have found streaming services are often limited. Should you have an affection for classical music, rock music and folk do you really want to have to sign up for three streaming services? And hop from one app to another to assemble an evening's worth of music? Don't forget too, three monthly fees.

I believe the big losers will be second tier artists. Compared with Spotify and the like they got a higher payout per track or album. Take YouTube, their payments make your eyes water by comparison to iTunes. Sure the big guys will continue to do well, the small fry have never made money under any model, but for the also rans the pressure to perform will increase.

iTunes Music Store?

In the world of Apple there are rumours, "fake news" and all sorts of fanciful speculation. It's been that way ever since I've been using Apple computers so I hesitate before I respond. Remember, I'm the person confidently forecasting a super-giant iPod Classic running on solid state memory and that's no more likely today than when I first suggested it a decade ago.

So I've hesitated before saying this. Deep breath, here goes - Apple will shutter iTunes Music Store by the end of this year.

That will be it. No more 79p tracks and £7-99 albums. No more chance of U2 suddenly being foist upon you. The buy button will be no more.

What does this mean? Well, anything you've bought will continue to be playable. At the moment if you suffer a data corruption you can re-download purchases from Apple. I've not seen any suggestion on how that could be handled. My suspicion is that if you corrupt your local copy, that will be it.

For a while there have been two levels of cloud service. One, where your music is loaded to their cloud and you can access that either on the go or from a remote location. My guess is that will end. The second is access to the iTunes catalogue as a streaming music service similar to Spotify. My expectation is that will continue with the first type of account being encouraged to upgrade / spend more to get unlimited access.

The impact on you? Mostly I don't think people will notice. The first cloud option wasn't massively popular and was a trifle user-hostile. Younger consumers have been educated to expect all-you-can-eat music streaming services. You can access these on the ubiquitous iPhone so they'll sail on quite happily.

If you used Apple to "buy" music then indeed you'll be hit, but very few people I've come across do that any longer. Should you want to purchase music in future there's always Amazon who might benefit from a sales boost.

Personally it helps us, people who love music have found streaming services are often limited. Should you have an affection for classical music, rock music and folk do you really want to have to sign up for three streaming services? And hop from one app to another to assemble an evening's worth of music? Don't forget too, three monthly fees.

I believe the big losers will be second tier artists. Compared with Spotify and the like they got a higher payout per track or album. Take YouTube, their payments make your eyes water by comparison to iTunes. Sure the big guys will continue to do well, the small fry have never made money under any model, but for the also rans the pressure to perform will increase.

Collecting CDs in Person

Yes, we collect in person. We've been doing this for coming up to sixteen years. The miles covered, the jams endured, the hours in service stations and my series of clubs (McDonalds). I think I've visited each one in London.

But it's coming to an end, this year.

After December the personal collection / return option will be no more. Simply had enough of it, sorry TfL, I'm sure you're doing your best but traffic moves far slower today than it did when we started. The standard of driving is much lower. I never thought I'd have to invest in a dash cam to record the unbelievable stupidity of some drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

The message is clear, if you want or need personal collection you need to act now. Come December (not sure exactly when in that month) the option will be withdrawn. Until then happy to endure the roads.

After December we'll be mail based. Further details later but when we began thinking about this the possibility of losing clients was a brake on this decision. However for many years we've offered a mail based service and we've also been explaining to anyone who rings that they can mail their discs to us. Whilst many clients love the high service option of collection many are happy to mail or deliver their CDs in person.

This last week we've received over 2,000 CDs either by mail or by personal delivery, so this option works well for many people. We hope it will work well for you too ... but if not, act now while the personal collection option is still on offer.

iPods - impending doom, act now.

Yesterday Apple killed two of their iPod models - the iPod Nano and the iPod Shuffle. Cue some tears.

Mixed feelings here. I could see the point go the Nano and I know it was popular with our clients. Maybe not for "mainstream" high quality music listening but for younger family members, as a gift, as a commute system, for a second home of to leave in the car. Great device.

Shuffle? Never really got it. I know people who got them as a jogging companion or for very small children. No screen, ultra tiny capacity, dull exterior, hit and miss playing experience. Sorry, not one for me and I won't mourn its passing.

Still, if these devices are your thing you might find some left in-stock with retailers if you act really fast. Apple's online store now only offers the iPod touch (which I think is great). Argos are showing both the Nano and the Touch, Amazon are listing Nano, Touch and Classic as available.

Looking to the future the tide is rising and the next inline is clearly supplies of the Classic. With large portable playing capacity and better Digital to Analogue conversion now may be the best if not last time for you to buy.

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