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posted November 17, 2011, 8:07 am by Ben Oliver | Filed Under Editorial, General Interest, Music News | comment 11 Comments

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.


11 Responses to “R.I.P. CD”

  1. Profile photo of Brian Rutherford Brian Rutherford on November 17th, 2011 9:16 am

    I’ll always have CDs, like the old man afraid to get rid of his crates of vinyl and eight tracks

  2. Profile photo of CharlesMartel CharlesMartel on November 17th, 2011 10:13 am

    There will always be a need for physical copies of music. The record industry on this, as on so many other things, is completely out of touch with reality. No wonder that EMI nearly went bankrupt. I for one do not want digital only music.

  3. Profile photo of Kevin Sellers Kevin Sellers on November 17th, 2011 11:18 am

    There’s a certain quality of I don’t know what that I relish in when it comes to physical copies of albums. The artwork, packaging, design, all that plays a part in the overall experience.

  4. Profile photo of Ben Oliver Ben Oliver on November 18th, 2011 7:32 am

    Brian, why?

    Charles, I agree that options are always better.

    Kevin, I agree–especially when it comes to vinyl.

  5. Profile photo of CharlesMartel CharlesMartel on November 18th, 2011 8:35 am

    I still got my old vinyls – hundreds of ’em. I’ve even got some old ceramic 78 rpm of long dead bluesmen. They are very fragile and finding a turntable that can play them is hard. I do not recommend bringing those back tbh.

  6. Profile photo of Brian Rutherford Brian Rutherford on November 18th, 2011 11:45 am

    simply put, sentimentality

  7. Profile photo of Kevin Sellers Kevin Sellers on November 18th, 2011 12:43 pm

    I think that we’re close to the point when the people typically buying a lot of music (I would guess teenagers and 20-somethings) will no longer have that sentimental attachment to CDs like some of us have had growing up. Maybe we’re still about 10 or 20 years before that point, but I expect sometime between now and, let’s say 2020, nobody will be printing new copies of CDs on a large scale unless they do it themselves and sell them themselves.

  8. Profile photo of dscanland dscanland on November 18th, 2011 1:25 pm

    That’s the problem with society these days as well. Sentimentality with something physical. Strangely enough, most of the memories with music come from the actual music, not the liner notes or the cover.

    I’m trying to detach myself from the thousands of CDs that I own. I haven’t touched any of them in years! In fact, I’m ripping them and if I haven’t got one locally, I’ll just download rather than try and go through my boxes of CDs that are taking up an entire room. I’d rather have 2 1TB drives full of music rather than that room full of them.

  9. Profile photo of Kevin Sellers Kevin Sellers on November 18th, 2011 2:42 pm

    It’s something I see no reasonable excuse for, no logical explanation for, but suffer from all the same. The only real reasoning behind not letting CDs die is the additional artform of construction a creative form of packaging. It can tie into the theme of the album and act as an additional bargaining chip in the typical $15-$20 price range we still are expected to pay for new music. I understand that buying digitally can be cheaper, but I’d much prefer to have both options available. But, economics will see this duality of musical consumerism die off soon enough. RIP indeed.

  10. Profile photo of Ben Oliver Ben Oliver on November 18th, 2011 5:21 pm

    Dennis, I agree with you mostly. But I still remember physically handling records and tapes growing up also. Regardless of what happens when, I predict one day our offspring will be inheriting our digital music libraries.

  11. Profile photo of CharlesMartel CharlesMartel on November 19th, 2011 2:18 am

    I agree – I feel as if I don’t have an album unless I can physically pick it up.

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