Prince’s Death Highlights the Importance of Old Media

By Dianna Dilworth 

If you wanted to listen to your favorite Prince songs after the artist died yesterday, you may have come up short if you didn’t own his records on CD, cassette or vinyl.

That’s because Prince’s music is not for sale in iTunes, its not on YouTube (except for the rare appearance Muppets or excerpts from his Superbowl performance) and you can’t add it to your Spotify list. Prince fought to keep his music from these digital channels, since they didn’t offer him the terms he wanted.

Many great artists are not featured on iTunes, Netflix or in the Kindle store because of this. (It took a long time for The Beatles and J.K. Rowling to come around to digital). If you throw out your DVDs or books, you risk losing that content forver. And even if it’s available now, it might not be in the future. Just think of how many movies have dropped from Netflix.

Amazon recently updated its software for old Kindle devices and consumers that didn’t update risked access to the Kindle store. Remember when you buy an e-book, you aren’t buying the book, you are licensing access to the digital file, which is different than owning a print book which you can always pick up.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t buy and consume digital media. In fact, sometimes reading an e-book is more convenient and listening to your iTunes library can definitely be easier than having to flip a record.

Instead we should make it easier for consumers to have access to digital files when they purchase analog media. It’s pretty standard for new vinyl to come with a free MP3 download code today, yet only a few publishers are doing this. Giving a free e-book code with the purchase of a print copy of a book is a great way to keep old media alive and give readers a full experience.