The compact disc has been with us since the early 1980’s, and were originally only used for storage and playback of audio.
Later they evolved to also store data, but they didn’t start to have major mainstream adoption by consumers until the early 1990’s. It was the CD that marked the dawn of the digital age, not Napster or iTunes. While many bloggers have proclaimed it’s death since blogs were created, a new report recently released says it may indeed be imminent. Online music magazine Side-Line has went on record that major labels like Sony, EMI and Universal plan to stop the production of CDs by the end of 2012. The report goes on to state that physical cd’s would only be created for special releases.
No one can deny the decline of CD sales. However, there are a few things to consider before the CD gets the final nail in it’s coffin. First, CD’s replaced cassette tapes for the simple reason of better technology. Sure, they could get scratched, damaged, or ruined, but overall was just a better product. And besides just the physical properties, a CD sounded better quality wise than a cassette tape did. It’s not the same today’s high def digital world. Mp3s and the like are no match for CD fidelity.
Another factor is that both vinyl and cassette tapes are both making a comeback. Vinyl sales have been one of the only areas within the industry that have increased lately. And while cassettes are not reputable for their audio quality, the recent surge in lo-fi has renewed their popularity. Spin magazine had featured an article on their popular resurgence this year, and I have seen several bands offering them for sale. Finally, record labels are still making record earnings from the physical format. Granted, it probably costs less to release music digitally than physically. Yet don’t forget that distribution deals and contracts can and are also costing the labels. They are still making profits when you make an iTunes purchase, but streaming sites like Spotify reward the artist with more percentage than the suits.
Will the compact disc die? Absolutely. When will that happen? That is anyone’s guess. Let us know how you feel and if you agree or disagree.