Last week, the British Music Rights organization published a study about the musical habits and desires of younger listeners. The survey (available here in PDF form) included more than 1,000 recipients, age 14 and up, enrolled in universities or "feeder schools," and the results contain some positive nuggets for the ailing recorded music industry.
Most notably, given all the warnings about video games and other forms of entertainment taking music's place, music is still important to kids: 73% of those surveyed said they'd want to take their music collection with them to a desert island. Music came in ahead of all other possessions, including their mobile phones, books and magazines, and musical instruments. Moreover, while illegal downloading is popular (63% do it) and the most frequently cited reason for it is "to save money," CDs are far from dead: 97% of survey respondents had a CD collection, and only 14% of those CDs were ripped from friends.
But here's the part that really caught my attention--74% of kids say they'd pay for a legal file-trading service that contained every song ever recorded and let them keep the songs indefinitely. But even with this infinite online database, 63% would continue to buy CDs because they want a physical artifact.
These numbers are probably exaggerated: survey respondents might say they're willing to pay for something, then change their minds when the actual product goes on sale. Even so, the demise of physical music is not imminent--people want the artwork, the physical connection with the artist, and an item to place on their shelves to show an aspect of their personality to friends.