I had a dream (nightmare) the other night, where I walked into the last remaining record store on the planet. It had signs up on the doors and windows saying "clearance sale", and was soon to be shut down. I remember a distinct sadness while flipping through the shelves of albums, knowing that it was to be the last time I'd ever get to do so. I woke up in a proper depressed state of mind, and remained that way for a couple of hours.
Basically, being super old-fashioned, physical forms of music have always, and will always, trump their digital versions for me. Nothing can really replace the experience of popping a CD out of its holder for the first time, or sliding out that vinyl from its sleeve and examining the detail; listening to the album while examining the artwork and reading the liner notes & lyrics. For me, it's almost a spiritual experience. It calms and contents me.
I'm sure the dream was brought on by my thoughts during that day, which had involved noting the reduced number of music stores around, and the somewhat dwindling stock of more hard-to-find music at these stores which remain open. It's a scary thought for me, to realize it as a dying art, in a way. Sure, physical forms of music will probably always be around in some form, and for a long time still, but the thought is daunting.
It led me to think that my normal consideration for purchasing albums (both physically & digitally), which I assumed was also a norm for other people, is not. In many cases, at least. Tons of my friends tell me that they haven't purchased an album in years. The tendency for people to casually remark about downloading albums for free has actually built up to a point for me where it immediately upsets me when I hear it. Basically, it's common & socially acceptable theft, which I find truly sad, as music is slowly but surely becoming a devalued and cheap form of entertainment.
The resurgence of vinyl records has given me hope for the future of physical music. I just hope that it's less of a trend, and more something which will remind people about experiencing music, as opposed to merely hearing it.