I guess that there are plenty of ways I could use to talk about this, and a lot of things I could say about it. So, since this comes as a reflection of two things that happened during my vacations, I'll just tell you about those two, talk only a little about my reflections about it... and let you do your own thinking.
The first one is about Stereo 8. What's in the picture is - for those that don't know - a Stereo 8 cartridge. Before the massification of the Cassette Tape, this was what people used to listen as a more portable (yet inferior) media for recorded music. After the event of massification of the use of cassettes, Stereo 8 lost most of their fans, with exceptions of truck drivers (most of their vehicles came with an 8-track player) and in some less developed countries. This one is mine, one of the two only 8-track I have that still play. The curious fact about it is that, for me, this is the best Tango album I ever listened to. In fact, I generally don't like Tango, but I really dig this album, and during vacations spent quite a few hours listening to it while playing Scrabble with Paula. Unlike the other 8-track cartridge I own, this one was never released in any other format. That means that if I want to listen to it, I must do it from the original source (well, maybe next time I go to Lamego I'll try to rip it to another format). This music is virtually lost: not only I don't believe there are that many 8-track listeners out there, but the probability they have this one, and still playable, is pretty much none. The format is so dead, that each time I tell somebody that the last 8-track released I know of was in 2004 (even if I suspect that if I dig enough I'll find that some crazy band released one more recently), their reaction is generally disbelief: they expected it was in the eighties. So, what happens if you want this music? Nothing. You simply can't have it. Of course it would done absolutely no harm if I made a copy and give it to you, but that would be illegal, this isn't in Public Domain. And since it only enters in Public Domain 70 years after its authors die, we both will be dead or deaf by then... you'll just have to believe this is good music. I don't really think that 70 years after-death for getting music into Public Domain makes any sense, but unfortunately EU is thinking in extending it even more...
The other one is about one music store in Lamego: Brincodisco. I had a quite long and interesting chat with its owner (that was already owner of that place even before I was born, my brother and older sister used to buy there their records...), and there were lots of things in that chat and my visit to the store that made me think in several things - so I'll probably end up talking about that store several times in the future. But, for now, the thing that made me enter into the store the most (well, besides being a music store and me being on vacations): there were several cassette tapes exposed there. But the shock was when I entered: my estimation is that the store sells (more or less) 40% CDs, 35% Vinyl records and 25% cassette tapes. That's right: one quarter of the items selling there are cassette tapes. How do you take this piece of information, when the trend nowadays is saying that all the physical formats are dead but CD, that is dying?
Reality check, please: physical formats are never going to die, and CDs and Vinyls have decades in front of them, before they disappear. You might not like this, you might want to ignore this when you make your business, prediction or whatever you do, but if confronted with this, you need to realize that, even if a niche, the physical music market is here to stay. And I'm glad.