iTunes launched its UK service today, its release probably pushed forward because Napster stole a march on them not so long ago and OD2 has been doing a nice trade with its music merchandising engine for quite some time now thank you very much. It brought up an interesting conversation on breakfast TV this morning as to whether or not the advent of legal MP3 stores signals the beginning of the death of CDs. Of course it doesn't. It's true that vinyl stores are now few and far between but vinyl is still with us twenty years after the launch of CDs which supposedly signaled the death of vinyl. The truth is that while some formats (vinyl, CD, MP3) gain major acceptance from the public and others (minidisc, betamax, SACD) don't, they are simply complementary formats, and not mutually exclusive. CDs were supposed to be indestructible and recently they were found not to be. Of course hard drives are definitely destructible and vinyl fades with age - we choose what format we prefer and generally stick to it.
For me, there's a parallel between learning of the existence of CDDB back in 1998 and iTunes \ Napster now. Having a fairly eclectic collection of music I spent a good while trying to find releases I had that CDDB didn't know about. There were a few but not many. Now take iTunes \ Napster. There are fairly major artists (Satriani, Vai, Johnson) whose back catalogue simply isn't available on either service yet, which is very poor. If those artists aren't available for streaming or download, what chance have to use these services for my purpose - to find good recordings of those singles from my youth I remember with fondness but have only radio tapes of? Adamski? No. D-Mob? No. FPI Project? No.
What's the point of having online music stores anyway if they don't have the music we want to hear? According to The Register, Indie labels are basically rejecting iTunes as a method of distribution anyway. No, they aren't going to wrest me from my CD collection for a long time to come, that’s for sure.