Not too long ago if you wanted to buy some music you wandered into the local record / CD store and flipped through physical media that contained encoded bits of analogue or digital data that were read and reconverted into audio waves for your listening pleasure. While Mom and Pop survive in the current neoclassical age of Vinyl (a not insignificant percentage of current music sales) the transformation to “ether delivered” audio was enabled entirely through technology. The physical medium became unnecessary and distribution exploded (even as artist royalties imploded but that’s another story). So here we are on the cusp of another retail revolution: groceries! If the snap, crackle and pop of Vinyl is part of its charm for Rice Krispies it’s the whole point. The thing is you can’t reduce food to an analogue or a digitally encoded slurry of data. It still has to be transported to the customer even if it arrives in a self driving truck or drone. If grocers go away then someone still has to grow, breed, butcher, aggregate, store and deliver. If music consumption has become a constant stream of audio calories (some empty, some with nutrition) then what will happen a food consumption follows this new form of transportation and delivery. How does browsing on iTunes differ from Amazon Pantry? If I get the urge to listen to 40 marches by Henry Fillmore I can raid the audio pantry and snack away – will I be able to that with online grocery sales? What’s the turnaround between munchie attack and satiety? Will my diet be curated the same way I get “suggestions for you” about my music? And most important? Whence cometh or goeth the jobs? Will grocers become logisticians? Will check out clerks find new life in order fulfillment? Will butchers become music critics?!?
Only time will tell but it’s worth noting that there is change in the wind and career minded folks might want to trim their sails before the events unfolding, well ….trim their sales.