The role of music libraries in electronic enviroment

Subject: The role of music libraries in electronic enviroment
From: Heikki Poroila (
Date: ti 12 marras 1996 - 08:55:55 EET

Emanuella Giavarra wrote about an article in the Financial Times "Jukebox Web sites may
play death march for megastores" asking about the role of music libraries.

I am not able to speak out all the thought I have about this item righ now, but as a
music librarian I want to say something.

1. Listening to music via internet is not a major temptation for usual consumers of
music since there are so many other possibilities already, and they all are much more
convenient than sitting and waiting beside the PC. Enthusiastic experts are something
else, but their needs don't pay enough.

2. The possibility to download new music from internet is a tempting possibility - in
the future. It is not enough that the output from the net is easy and quick (they are
not right now for the great majority of internet users, I believe). The big problem is
the enormous amount of memory needed for preserving musical information in digital form.
An usual CD needs about 660 megabytes of hard disc memory if not compressed or reducted
at all. This is simply too much for any reasonable downloading plans. When the consumers
have a cheap recordable super CD (DVD - Digital Versatile Disc is the name of this game
now, I think), things are going to change. But that is not yet here.

3. I don't want to comment on the future of record companies or artists. But the role of
music libraries will change, no doubt about that. If and when people (or at least a
paying majority) are ready to take over from conventional CD's to dowloadable net
versions of new musical productions, at least public music libraries are in trouble. Not
because they would not have clients anymore, but because they won't get the rights to
distribute music products in digital form for free.

4. I am not afraid, yet, but in the long run the role of public music libraries may
diminish strongly if there are no more hard copies of musical works available.

5. I am not expecting much to happen in this scene in nearest future. Record industry is
very conservative and they want to be sure to make more bucks (or it's equivalencies in
other currencies) before they stop their traditional industry. But of course,
distributing music via network offers so many advantages, that in the end that happens.

I am interested in returning to these questions later. User rights in the electronic
music world are something we have to discuss carefully.

Heikki Poroila
Music Librarian
Vantaa City Library, Finland

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