"More Americans buy music online, fewer buy CDs," was the AFP headline that caught my eye. In related news: Sugar is sweet, the tax deadline is coming, and you should use sunscreen. Film at 11, presented by Captain Obvious.
The real news
All kidding aside, it pays to keep an eye on exactly how quickly music consumers are moving into cyberspace. Don't you wish you had known how Apple
The good news this time is that there's another revolution underway that may render iTunes obsolete in a few years. According to the NPD Group's 2008 Digital Music Study, streaming is starting to replace downloads.
Downloading vs. streaming
The difference, for the uninitiated, is that download stores like iTunes and Amazon's
But streaming takes that convenience to a whole new level. Set up a play list or pick an online radio station, fire up your favorite way to access that service (including cell phone applications, set-top boxes like that trusty TiVo
Privately held Pandora helps you find new music based on what you already like. Yahoo!
The investing takeaway
NPD says that 18% of Internet users know about Pandora today, compared to 9% last year. 19% of American consumers get music from social networks like MySpace or Facebook, a 27% increase year-over-year. If Pandora ever goes public, I'd be first in line to buy shares. Today, RealNetworks is your best bet for investing in the streaming music revolution. I'd be happy with just a fraction of Apple's success, but this trend might make iTunes altogether obsolete.
Watch your back, Apple: The streamers are coming. Adapt or die.
More musical Foolery:
Fool contributor Anders Bylund is a longtime Netflix shareholder and customer, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.