Diminished returns?

From physical albums to online streaming, the way we enjoy music has changed

Older music listeners prefer physical albums over streaming. Guillaume Souvant / AFP
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With the explosion of internet streaming music platforms, the way we purchase (or simply obtain) music has changed. Two of the last three chart toppers in the UK, Paul Simon and Rick Astley, confirm a trend: older music listeners prefer physical albums over streaming.

Younger generations tend to stream music, often through paid services such as Spotify. People under the age of 25 are generally reluctant to purchase music and consume it from free services such as YouTube or illegal sites. Without waxing poetic for a bygone music era, streaming platforms don’t deliver tangible products on par with LPs. They lack liner notes or lyrics pages that one can hold and examine. There is simply not the same permanence of investment that physical albums provide. It is much easier to preview an album on a streaming website and then simply forget it. As with paper books, there will always be a place for physical albums but that place appears to be shrinking.