When I first started buying music in earnest, it was LPs as the big purchases, with Cassettes as the second choice (and choice for copying music). It was obvious: LPs were permenant, plus at 12″ they came with artwork for a cover and the ability to pick and choose which tracks you wanted to play. Cassettes were small and convenient for copying other’s LPs with, but could easily be broken and had the aura of tackiness (some of the layouts of the period didn’t help). And I bought plenty of both, especially since Cassettes were the main salvo of local groups putting out their Magnum Opuses.
Then I watched as LPs were eventually cast aside, first by Cassettes (turned out the portability was a big plus, with the expansion of car cassette players and walkmen, plus they started putting effort in the Cassette releases including different mixes and extra cuts), then by CDs. Cassettes had their glory days, but soon had disappeared from everything except garage sales and eBay. And I shifted with the tides, buying Cassettes between the “death” of the LP and finally giving in to the CD craze in 1992.
I still have plenty of CDs that I bought in the nineties and early oughts, both pop and classical (had a classical phase in time for Classical to die out on the radio).
Then came mp3s. I dipped my toe in them at first (did Napster once before Metallica crushed them), then eventually embracd them. Why not – they cost almost nothing, space-wise, and the iPod takes up the same amount of space no matter how much you have packed into it (and how much space, in GBytes, that the thing has).
And now for CDs, Cassettes and LPs? I found that now I have to justify their purchase in some way. Either I can’t get them via an mp3 form, or they’re a band that I’d feel stupid buying in an mp3 format, or some other reason.
Note that I’m still buying music. After all, I still believe in supporting the acts. It’s the physical item that I find hard to swallow anymore. Especially when they cost so much (compared to MP3s, even when paid for) and you can’t sell them at the record store anymore (because there’s no more record stores anymore).