CDs to Streaming: Insight on the New Age of Music

By: Holly Johnson, Emma Thomas, Marisol Ceja, Karina Orellana

Technology has progressed rapidly over the past 50 years, with new technological items being introduced to the masses. Music has been one of those technologies that is seen as “new”, in a sense that new genres and ways to listen to them have been invented. CDs were very popular for a decent amount of time, gaining popularity from the 80’s well into the mid 2000’s. The current and most popular music listening platform is streaming. Professor Rashidi conducted his research on transitional experiences from physical music media purchases to streaming service subscriptions. His research titled “What do we do with these CDs? Transitional experiences from physical music media purchases to streaming service subscriptions” was published in 2020.

Through subscription services and online music stores, individual songs can be purchased or unlimited music can be played for a monthly fee digitally. Two of the leading music streaming services are Apple Music and Spotify. Both services have almost 500 million monthly subscribers each. Our research on this topic stemmed from research conducted by California State University Fullerton professor Waleed Rashidi. He is the Entertainment and Tourism Club representative as well a professor of entertainment related classes. We arranged an online Zoom interview with Professor Rashidi to discuss his research and ask further questions to help our group prepare for our own research on music. 

Source: NorseCorp

The rapid change of music mediums from CDs to streaming services has been mind-boggling. For instance, Spotify was introduced into the United States in 2013. By the end of 2017, an estimated 202 million subscribers had began paying for subscription-based streaming services, with Spotify as the catalyst for this trend. Spotify isn’t the only streaming service that Rashidi investigated. He also took a look at Apple Music, YouTube Music, and Amazon. Needless to say, the sheer volume of music streaming participants created a fruitful study for Rashidi to cultivate.

Professor Rashidi consumed large amounts of information for his studies, which resulted in the creation of three total research questions for him to explore in his publication, “What do we do with these CDs? Transitional experiences from physical music media purchases to streaming service subscriptions”. They research questions are as follows:

RQ1: What are streaming music subscribers currently doing with their physical media?

RQ2: In what ways have streaming music subscribers maintained or removed their physical music media?

RQ3: Why might streaming music subscribers aim to acquire additional physical music media in the future?

A total of 113 participants participated in a qualitative survey that consisted of a 15 question minimum requirement. After collecting his variety of responses, Rashidi was able to analyze his data. To answer RQ1, he found that a majority of respondents kept their CD collection in their possession. This may be attributed to society’s resuscitation of ‘vintage’ music media (such as vinyls). The answer to RQ1 naturally leads to the answer of RQ2. Those who did not keep their CD collections either gave them away or donated them to places such as Goodwill or Salvation Army. Although most people in Rashidi’s study prefer streaming services over physical music media, some respondents answered RQ3 by saying that there is gratification in purchasing physical media. There are those who identify themselves as collectors, and therefore seek out physical media specifically. 

Source: NewsWeek

After reading Rashidi’s written research, we were further prompted to hold an interview with him to have a more colloquial conversation about his research process. Rashidi was very aimable during our interview, and it was evident he is very passionate about the research he has conducted. One question we were interested in asking was why Rashidi decided to conduct his research using qualitative methods over quantitative. He attributed this preference to his background as a print journalist, saying that having those interview conversations just come easy to him. During our conversation, it was obvious that Rashidi was very well versed in the process of interviewing. A second question worth mentioning was when we asked Rashidi how he takes in and accounts for the ever-changing music media world into his research. He responded by offering his compulsory need to stay up to date with music trends and data. In a music world that is rapidly mutating, Rashidi then needs to rapidly stay on his toes as well. A good researcher is an informed researcher, and Rashidi does his best to accomplish both. 

Dr. Waleed Rashidi’s main research interest is investigating music as a form of mass communication. He has also hosted the KSPC 88.7 FM weekly radio show since 1997 and was on air at KTIE 590 AM for five years. Rashidi is an editor at the Inland Empire Weekly, contributing to six books, and is the Editor in Chief of Mean Street Magazine. As a freelancer, he has written for the Los Angeles Times-Brand X, Alternative Press, Orange County Register, Modern Drummer, E! Online and OC Weekly. Rashidi’s main research method is through media formats and technology experiences. 

Rashidi conducted extensive research on playback technology, specifically on old technologies, such as cassette tapes. This research can be appointed as his foundation for researching about CDs later on in his career. He was curious as to why people were newly interested in cassette tapes after almost 40 years of being in retirement. He had lots of questions on why people were still very interested in a technology that was obsolete. Because of this, Rashidi conducted two different surveys: the first one on interviewing millennials on their usage of cassette tapes, and the second one interviewing record store owners on what it’s like to sell cassette tapes now. Rashidi uses a variety of technology to perform his research, such as email, online message boards, social media, and Qualtrics surveys.

Professor Rashidi is very excitable when it comes to music, as he has conducted a few informative researches about the ever-changing music industry. Overall, Rashidi made it very easy to pick the mind of an active researcher pertaining to the entertainment industry. Understanding the basis of his research has allowed us to understand a little bit more about analyzing music data. Not only that, we were able to exercise our skills as interviewers and learn what it was like to do a little digging of our own.

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