Friday, November 04, 2011

The death of CD shops, the death of the CD

This story about the major labels plan to abandon the CD by the end of 2012 made the rounds this week, prompting some good discussion about whether the story is true or not (it's not) and what the eventual death of the CD means in the musical big picture.

I don't think anybody doubts that the CD is on its last legs, but when the axe finally falls, it'll be major news and not something quietly leaked (allegedly) to a music site and reported on as fact without any sourcing whatsoever.

Remember when the major labels wanted to force you to pay $20 for an entire CD of music that they could manufacture for $1? And if you only wanted only one song then you were SOL, because there was no option to buy singles anymore? That was just ten years ago. Remember when they were willing to SUE YOU to keep that business model intact? That happened even more recently. And now, nobody wants the CD anymore. The music industry has been dragged into the future, kicking and screaming, just like it was with every other major change of listening format in the past 100 years.

Whenever this subject comes up, I wonder whether I made a mistake in not selling off my CD collection while I had the chance. I own enough obscurities that could probably fetch decent money for the foreseeable future, and most of my purchases over the past few years were bargain (and in many cases, rare) CD's that didn't set me back too much money anyhow. But for me it was never about the money anyhow, it was always about the collection itself, something I'd show off proudly as if it were a collection of books or old photos. I could never bring myself to part with a disc I loved, trading the physical object for a few files on a computer. The odd thing is, these days I have piles of music in the form of files on my computer -- and rarely find myself wanting to replace them with a physical object. Irrespective of price, genre, era, and sometimes even musical quality, I get attached to a CD in a way that rarely happens with any mp3.

And isn't it amazing -- and appropriate -- that vinyl will outlive the CD?

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