Digital Music Sales tops Physical Music Sales

acoustic guitarDid you catch this article last week on CNN? Digital Music tops Physical Music Sales. Here’s a couple of quotes from the article:

“According to a Nielsen and Billboard report, digital music purchases accounted for 50.3% of music sales in 2011. Digital sales were up 8.4% from the previous year, while physical album sales declined 5%.”

“While services like Napster blazed the trail for online music consumption, offerings like Apple’s 99-cents-a-song iTunes catalog as well as those from a host of startups have broken down traditional music-purchasing barriers. Most customers now prefer shopping online to buying in a store.”

For that matter, you don’t even have to buy music to enjoy it anymore. We finally took down our Christmas decorations last weekend. While doing that, we listened to some classic jazz via Pandora. Obviously, a radio would work here too … but not for the type of music I was listening to!

So … libraries and music. My public library has a pretty large CD collection. We also subscribe to Freegal (a library-oriented service that basically gives patrons 3 free music downloads a week). We have also seen a demo for the library version of Rdio (not impressed yet).

In five year’s time, what will we be doing? How will we be collecting music? Will music still be listed for checkout in our library catalogs? Or will we point patrons to Spotify/Pandora/Rdio/etc?

I’m not sure … what do you think?

guitar pic by Bigstock

New Podcasting Host for Us

dude listening to mp3sMy library has been podcasting for awhile, and we have been using blip.tv as our mp3 podcast hosting service. That has worked great … until now.

Blip.tv is a really cool video service. They have always focused on original web shows (think Epic Fu or Ask a Ninja), but historically they were also really friendly towards random, “share the stuff in your head” videobloggers and audio-only podcasters. So they were a great free alternative for a podcast hosting service.

Lately, Blip seems to be narrowing their focus to original web shows. Nothing wrong with that – businesses grow and change. But how does that affect us? Well – for me, though I have quite a few videos uploaded to Blip, you can’t find them in blip’s search engine anymore. They’re still hosted, and you can get to them on my videoblog – just not through Blip’s search engine.

And my library’s audio-only podcast? Blip is turning off the ability to upload all audio-only formats (that includes our mp3 files) starting December 13.

Bummer for us.

For my videos, no sweat – that’s easy. I’ll still upload them to Youtube (I’m already there anyway).

But finding a new podcast hosting service isn’t nearly as easy. For the most part, podcast hosting services actually cost money these days. Here are some of the more popular choices these days:

The big three – these are considered professional podcast hosting and distribution platforms:

  • Libsyn – plans start at $5 a month
  • podbean – they start out free, but add in monthly charges for added features and more storage space
  • blubrry – plans start at $12 a month

Free alternatives (your mileage will definitely vary with these):

A couple other alternatives:

  • hipcast – plans start at $4.95 a month
  • talkshoe – free, but it’s really more a live call-in show service that can be recorded and archived.

We ended up choosing Libsyn. Rob Walch, VP of Podcaster Relations at Wizzard Media (they own Libsyn) and host of the Podcast411 podcast, has spoken at two of the three Podcamp Topeka unconferences my library has hosted, and really knows his stuff. So we figured why not try them out?

So for now, we went with Libsyn’s $20 a month plan. It includes advanced statistics, a smartphone app, and more monthly storage. Since we plan on expanding our mobile multimedia offerings (i.e.., more audio and video stuff), paying for those features made a lot of sense to us. It’s still relatively cheap (compared to other stuff we buy or subscribe to, $240 a year is definitely cheap), and we get a dedicated podcasting platform and some really great statistics. Nothing wrong with that!

So – fingers crossed!

photo by skippyjon