In this presentation I look specifically at digital music consumption from 1982 onward. I assert that both Winston’s supervening social necessity and Christensen’s new-market disruption played a role with the evolution of music listening today.
Excerpt from my final paper:
On May 10, 2011, software company and search giant Google announced a new service that allowed consumers to upload their entire music collection to a Google server so they could access that music collection from the cloud using a PC, MAC or Android device. The service is called Google Music and while it’s still only in private beta and not accessible to Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad, it would become yet another disruptive technology in the music industry. Before we look closer at how we got here and what disruptive technology means, I think it’s important to take a look back in time when music distribution was more controlled and one-dimensional.
The year was 1982, nearly thirty years ago. Sony Corporation had just introduced the first Compact Disc audio CD player on the market with a retail price of nearly $900. Up until then, consumers only had analog playback options like the cassette player, record player and beta tape player. The technology behind the audio CD (officially Compact Disc Digital Audio or CD-DA) was actually a joint effort Sony and Philips two years earlier in 1980.
Data stored on CDs are made up of frames that consist of 33 bytes and six complete 16-bit stereo samples. That only equals 24 bytes though. The other nine bytes consist of eight CIRC error-correction bytes and one subcode byte, used for control and display. A byte is one unit of digital information. This information is necessary for establishing the transformation of music distribution at the time. Prior to this new digital format, audio cassette tapes, Stereo 8-tracks and vinyl records were prevalent.
With the advent of the CD and CD player, consumption of music slowly began to change. For the early adopters, compact discs and compact disc players made it easy for listeners to skip to their favorite songs at the press of a button. Not only was the technology of the CD revolutionary, so were the very features themselves, features like “repeat”, “skip”, and “shuffle.” Now consumers could control what they listened to like never before. Many of the early CD players all came with remote controls as well – putting even more control into the hands of the consumer. There were no remote controls for record and tape players at the time.