The internet has become one of the most revolutionary creations since the automobile. In less than 10 years, it has changed the way the world works and how business is done. Over the past few years, there has become a shortage of local stores for us to rent movies or purchase music from. Places that seemed too big to simply vanish. So what is killing off the giants? That question can be answered in two words: digital media.
Digital media is basically any kind of content delivered in digital form. For example, when you watch TV, you are looking at a type of digital media. The TV program is being sent to you digitally, rather than on a physical disc or cassette. Now that the stores you knew are gone or changing, what do you do? Don’t be afraid to embrace the change. There are many devices making it easier to access digital content and they are very simple to use. Tower Records and Blockbuster Video may not be in your neighborhood anymore, but there are some really great alternatives. In most cases, all you need is an internet connection and a device capable of delivering digital content, such as a network-ready blu-ray player or TV.
Movie, video and music services are finding their way into the mainstream in a big way. There are a number of companies who are ready and able to give you exactly what you’re looking for right now. In order to satisfy our insatiable hunger for digital media, many of these companies are serving their content on-demand, offering instant gratification. If you’re looking for movies, Netflix is currently the king. They offer a subscription service, which allows you to select from a vast library of movies to watch on-demand, as well as rent physical DVDs or blu-ray discs. The discs are sent to you by mail and returned in the same envelope when you are done with them – postage prepaid by Netflix. When you return your movies, they can be exchanged for others. Vudu and iTunes (Apple’s dominant online megastore) also offer movies for rent and purchase right over the internet. Cable companies and subscription broadcast services have been offering pay-per-view programming for a very long time, but it has evolved quite a bit since the early days and now much of their pay-per-view programming is available on-demand. Last (and very far from least) is the ever-popular YouTube, where people post their own videos and content for the world to see.
If music is your thing, there are even more options ready to serve up your favorite songs! Sure, you can purchase your favorite music online. That’s nothing new. There are many new services and devices being made available to provide you with content for free or for a price, depending on the service. You may even discover new, independent artists you’ve never heard of, since it’s easy and inexpensive for anyone to distribute their music digitally. Internet radio and music services have become huge over the past few years, thanks to portable devices, such as smartphones (Android, Blackberry and iPhone). Other devices like Sonos and Squeezebox make enjoying online music at home as easy as turning on your stereo. Pandora is one such service, which is found on just about any device that will run their software app. They are special because when you search for a specific song or artist, Pandora makes recommendations of other songs and artists, based on your original search. From there, you can rate songs, which helps their service provide you with more songs and artists you will like. Rhapsody is different for the fact that it offers a music-on-demand service. If it’s in their library, you can listen to exactly what you want, when you want. In order to keep the music going, they will also offer recommendations if you have no music queued up. Other services like Slacker and Last.FM are great services you may enjoy. They are all appearing on so many devices that you may have one of them in your home already!
Well, now you know what types of services are available and why the traditional disc-in-hand media is going away. Aside from the huge amount of available content, instant gratification and the portability of digital media, there is another significant benefit which should be strongly noted – digital media is environmentally friendly! Think of all the energy being saved by not producing the discs, the chemicals that aren’t being used to create plastic that the discs are made of and the production plants that have reduced their pollution into the environment. Having less discs may mean less going to our landfills. Digital media could be one step in breaking a cycle of pollution and cleaning that much more of our environment.
Digital media has officially etched its place in society. Are you connected?