Physical media is a bit of an oddity. Once considered finished, the popularity of vinyl and cassette tapes in particular seems to wax and wane like the moon. Still, while they have sentimental value, can treasured records still attract cash?
The Digital Ether
At the turn of the millennium, most media was still physical. CDs, DVDs, etc. wouldn’t start to fade into the digital ether until the 2010s when companies like Netflix took off. In fact, the latter service still sent out DVDs in the post at the beginning of the last decade.
Moving online would change all forms of entertainment, including the more interactive ones, such as gaming. Traditional high street outlets would disappear almost entirely. The casino industry split itself in half.
Today, the online and offline parts of casino gaming coexist. There’s no denying the fact that operators on the internet far outnumber those on the ground, though.
The thousands of online slots Canada hosts at some of its top digital casinos demonstrate how easy it’s become to expand and experiment. Table experiences, like blackjack, have also become a staple of the online casino.
Value in the digital world is a difficult thing to quantity. A great example from recent times is Non-Fungible Tokens or NFTs, which involve a receipt for a piece of media stored on the blockchain. This is a secure way of recording ownership and famously supports the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.
The most expensive NFT sold for $91.8m. Known as “The Merge”, this image of three planets is now owned by a collective of 28,983 people. Today, with the possible exception of tentpoles like The Merge, NFTs are worth almost nothing, as the bubble bursts.
Another frustrating (for those involved) story of devalued media involves music streaming platforms. A single play on Spotify nets an artist $0.0033. If you consider that physical songs are usually bought at a rate of £1 each, that’s quite a markdown.
So, how does that compare to the real world in 2024?
Lamenting the fact that “cultural archives” now exist on servers, Wired notes that the value of physical media exists not in the tactile joy of records and tapes, but in preservation. For instance, digital editions don’t have their “ephemeral” parts, like booklets and artwork.
The archaeology of lost media began very recently. For instance, as efforts to preserve them simply didn’t exist until a few years ago, only 13% of video game history is accessible to the public. The rest – entire franchises – is lost down the back of the world’s sofa.
So, are we going to wind up with thousands of TV shows, radio broadcasts, casino games, and songs missing from the world, because nobody bothered to back them up? It’s likely. There are already reports of popular long-running TV shows with up to 100 missing episodes, for instance.
Of course, those would have been stored physically, so maybe we’re just a clumsy race. The worry is that it’s going to be hard to preserve something that can no longer be found.