With listeners continuing to crave new songs at the click of a mouse, the recent boom in digital music downloads shows no signs of waning. Music services like Rhapsody, eMusic and especially iTunes have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success in the past year, with sales of digital music exceeding CD sales for the first time in the last week of 2005.
Keep an eye out for new services from competitorsafter all, its only a matter of time before Google gets in on the action. And as CD sales continue to plummet, expect record labels to seek more revenue via digital alternatives. Labels have been demanding increased prices for digital downloads, but whether those demands will be met remains to be seen.
Expanding technology will also lead to new ways of purchasing and listening to music. This year will see a rise in devices that combine mp3 players with cell phones, giving listeners the opportunity to buy and listen to songs all on their mobile phones. Verizon has already introduced a service for downloading music directly to phones, and rumor has it Apple could soon debut an iPod phone.
In the long run, its unclear whether the digitalization of the music industry will lead to the end of the album as we know it. Certainly, though, these changes will force record companies to adapt to consumers increasing ability to customize their listening experiences.