Are CDs Obsolete for Music?

June 8th, 2005 by Andrew

I realized yesterday that every CD I’ve bought, I no longer listen to. All of my CDs have been burned onto my computer to be subsequently stored in my iPod or listened to directly from the computer. With technology the way it is today, CDs are no longer required. With services like iTunes and Napster running the online music show, no one should have to worry about buying another CD. (Unless of course you’re a Metallica fan, because they don’t offer their albums for download.)

With these supposedly efficient and fantastic services at my disposal, why do I still buy CDs? It’s something to do with the tangibility of an actual album, the fresh, printed smell between the pages of the insert and the detailed artwork. Many times technology misses something in the translation. There is definitely something missing in the online music business. Although it’s rare that I actually listen to the original CD I buy, I have never downloaded a song from a (legal) music distribution service.

When I pay for a song, I normally like to have other songs that go with it. One song from an album isn’t enough. One song is not the whole original work of art produced by the artist. Many people claim to want only one song from a band, stating that the rest of their songs suck. To those people I say, “Ok.” They can have what they want, but to me, I want the whole thing. The online music services do offer full albums for download, but it’s just not the same. You don’t get something tangible, or even something you can actually see. Until I can teleport an album minted by some robotic assembly line directly to me after purchasing it online, it’s likely I won’t support the online music industry.

So back to my original question of whether CDs are obsolete for music. I don’t think they are…yet. The compact disc a medium for storing information is just plain slow and bad. Perhaps the next generation of albums will be stored onto something flash-based, or maybe not. It’s definite that analog forms of storage (LP, 8-track, tape) are definitely obsolete for today’s uses of music. You can’t possibly expect to rip a good sounding music file from a vinyl disc. Everything’s digital, and it’ll stay that way, barring any unforseen apocalyptic events. But up to that day when we lose all sources of power, and cockroaches rule the world, I’ll continue to buy the “obsolete” CD.

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