What’s the next tech after streaming? Nothing, right? Well…

[This was my weekend column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]

When the compact disc was unveiled in late 1982, many thought we’d finally reached perfection with music storage and playback technology. With their clear sound, the absence of hiss, crackles, and pops, and excellent portability, there was no more room for improvement.

Not that the tech industry didn’t try, of course. Over the next 20 years, we saw formats like DAT and DCC (both using digital signals on magnetic tape), Sony’s MiniDisc (essentially music on a special floppy disc), HDCDs and DVD-Audio (evolutions of the CD), and the stillborn DataPlay disc.

The game-changer was the MP3, the digital format introduced in the early ’90s that set us on the road to iTunes and eventually today’s streaming music services. Now platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, and the rest of them have libraries in excess of 50 million songs, all available instantly to anyone with an internet connection.

Just a few years ago, this kind of access to this much music was the stuff of science fiction. Now we take it for granted.

So that’s it, right? After 120 years of developing music storage products that started with Edison’s wax cylinders, we’re reached the end. There’s nothing that could possibly improve on streaming, right?

Not so fast.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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