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Is the CD Becoming Obsolete? 645

Posted by kdawson
from the fading-into-the-long-tail dept.
mrnomas writes "What's to blame for the declining CD sales? Is it that manufacturers are putting out more and more 'safe' (read: crap) music while independent musicians are releasing online? Is it because iTunes is now the third largest music retailer in the country? Or is it just that CDs are becoming obsolete?" Quoting: "Forbes.com [ran] an article showing that CD sales are expected to be down 20% in 2008 (slightly higher than the 15% drop initially predicted). Why such a drop? What's truly happening is a gradual shift away from physical media to downloadable formats. What this indicates, so far, is that US sales of digital music will be growing at an estimated rate of 28% in 2008, however physical sales will drop even further, resulting in a net overall decline.""
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Is the CD Becoming Obsolete?

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  • Not yet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brad1138 (590148) * <brad1138@yahoo.com> on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:04PM (#19644789)
    Until downloadable music isn't compressed, or they are able to compress without ANY loss, there will still be a need for CD's. I think the under 25 crowd doesn't care that much, you wouldn't notice the difference on an Ipod, but on a nice home system you do.
    • Re:Not yet (Score:5, Informative)

      by bheer (633842) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .reehbr.> on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:11PM (#19644835)
      Apart from home audio systems, a LOT of people listen to music on car stereos. And on good ones, CD quality really helps for some music -- for example, Shine On You Crazy Diamond sounds a lot better on CD than an MP3 burn.

      That said, yeah, a lot of new music has been so overprocessed and made loud [performermag.com] that the they don't really benefit much from a CD. Still, people who listen to classical etc will be able to tell the difference.

      • Re:Not yet (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:21PM (#19644989)
        Higher Bit Rate music sounds better on even poor quality sound systems. The problem is, is that most people who say they don't care just haven't heard their music in +384kbps and don't know what they're missing.

        The music industry should realize the CD is a fading format. They need to start pushing 192khz audio dvds. They have almost the same manufacturing cost as CDs. And considering the number of homes that have surround sound system in the US, this is quality that could easily be appreciated.

        (under 25 and appreciates good sound quality)
        • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @01:15AM (#19645849)
          Moving to better audio would have been one approach... Movie industry figured that one out. However, they are so scared of their own shadow that the idea of a better product scares them. They are more interested in trying to preserve the status quo and release best-of CDs to milk cash.

          SA-CD or DVD-A could have been their salvation, but that would have required pushing the format (all new releases in SA-CD/CD Hybrid discs, so you can use your old CD player and play the material). Houses have LOTS of CD players, 2 cars, home stereo, maybe the master bedroom and a teenagers room. Nobody is putting SA-CD players EVERYWHERE, but they might have bought 1-2 of them if all new CDs supported the new format.

          Teenagers like to listen to music... SA-CD boomboxes would have helped make that a reality. But they decided that hey, let's try to collect $30 a SA-CD, and crushed the market. If they had moved up market, and included AAC/WMA/MP3 files ON THE DISC, people might have traded the MP3s online (but they can do that now with a simple CD purchase) and preserved/grew the market.

          However, they decided to focus on "plugging the analog hole" and "preventing piracy," making the formats more complicated, players more expensive, and didn't release Hybrids... who the hell was going to buy a SA-CD that they couldn't play in their car. I remember my dad diligents copying every new CD, that went in the stereo case, to a cassette deck for the car for a while... that's unnecessary when Hybrid tech exists, and impossible when you don't make it easy to copy the new SA-CD to CD.

          The desire to listen to music on the iPod in no way endangered CD sales inherently, but that would have required more effort to release good CDs, not overcompress the music by making everything LOUD, and encouraged better quality hardware... companies like Sony that do hardware and software could have raised the bar with inexpensive SA-CD bedroom stereos that sounded okay...

          However, CDs sound better on a decent system than MP3s, and SA-CDs no doubt sound better, but the refusal to support SA-CD killed it. Digital audio is damned convenient, busy moving my old CD-Jukebox (400 disc, takes forever to change CDs if you want to mix up tracks) to a lossless media server, but there was no reason for the studios not to make that a reality, other than laziness and a fear of change.

          Alex
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by KlaymenDK (713149)
            I hear what you're saying. I really do.

            But as insightful as your post is, why do you say

            If they had moved up market, and included AAC/WMA/MP3 files ON THE DISC
            and not a single lossless format among them?

            I'd say FLAC+WMA would be the premier choice, the one being high-end for audiophiles, the other being playable on dang near any modern (car) stereo. (And yes I could have said MP3 instead of WMA, but Fraunhofer's licensing is even more bonkers than Microsoft's.)
          • by tentimestwenty (693290) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @10:55AM (#19649577)
            People don't care about sound quality. Now that they've seen that they can put their whole music collection on a little box the size of a deck of cards, the only thing 99% of people care about is size. Take it from someone who owns a high end stereo store. The number one request I get is for "wireless speakers." This is followed closely by "a tiny amplifier." People just want invisible music. They're not listening seriously, it's all for background. And now that they can download anything they want, why the hell would they buy space-taking CDs? The CD is dead. Ironically, the only people who do care about quality have gone back to vinyl, largely because the CD selection locally is dwindling to the same size.
      • Re:Not yet (Score:5, Insightful)

        by wytcld (179112) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:24PM (#19645021) Homepage
        Fully agree - but CD quality was never as good a vinyl through the right equipment. Bob Dylan had a lot to say about that a few months back. To his ears there just haven't been any CDs that have achieved what vinyl, with the right engineers handling the mix, used to.

        There's a degree to which the psychoacoustic models that schemes like mp3 use actually clean up the noisy mess that all or most all CDs present. The way these schemes hollow out the back of the sound produces something clearer and more delicate - more like live music straight from the amps. Except it really sounds quite different from live music. Good vinyl, on the other hand, can be indistinguishable from live performance if your eyes are closed. CDs never had that. So it's easy to walk away from them. All the discussion of "lossless" misses the point that at the rates CDs are sampled there's already a high degree of loss. Music is inherently analog; digital has to get an order of magnitude better (at least) before it'll be so realistic that it's worth a premium.
        • Re:Not yet (Score:5, Funny)

          by king-manic (409855) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:53PM (#19645287)
          Fully agree - but CD quality was never as good a vinyl through the right equipment. Bob Dylan had a lot to say about that a few months back. To his ears there just haven't been any CDs that have achieved what vinyl, with the right engineers handling the mix, used to.

          Ohhh. really. I have a pair of thousand dollar cables to sell you.....

          Realistically most ears can't hear the distinction between new vinyl and a CD / MP3. I can't tell reasonable bitrate Mp3, CD, or vinyl. They simply are good enough for most.
      • by goombah99 (560566) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:46PM (#19645221)
        First I agree, music quality has nothing to do with it. That accounts for a negligible market size. The real reason is gifts. How many CDs did you used to buy and how many did you used to give as gifts. I'd wager about 10% of the CDs you bought was the number you gave as gifts at christmas or other times. Possibly more. Nowadays I still give CDs as gifts. But I don't buy two of it. I buy one, make a copy for myself, and give the original media as the gift. The original media is a much better gift than a burned CD or a pile of itunes gift certificates. It's not like the days of audi tapes where a Mix CD took time and effort and could only be made one at a time. THere the mix tapes were more valuable than the original media. With Cds its the reverse. I have no problems owning a copy but I prefer to give the original as a gift. It's the tangible media that is satsifying to the recpient. I'd say that could easily account for 15% of the market.
        • by ewhac (5844) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @01:02AM (#19645783) Homepage Journal

          Nowadays I still give CDs as gifts. But I don't buy two of it. I buy one, make a copy for myself, and give the original media as the gift.

          Ardent readers of my writings (both of you) will know that I am no great friend of existing copyright laws, that copying is an inevitability of advancing technology, and believe the regime should re-engineered and replaced with a system that preserves reputations rather than proscribes copying and/or who can manufacture things.

          ...But even so, I still think what you're doing is really, really cheesy.

          Schwab

        • by TrinSF (183901) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @02:22AM (#19646263)
          I'm sorry, that's tacky. What you're doing is giving a *used* CD as a gift -- used in the sense that you have first used it. That's fine in and of itself, but buying someone a gift so that you can benefit from it is, well, tacky. It's like buying your mom a frying pan so that she'll make you pancakes. It's like buying someone a sweater but wearing it holiday office party before you wrap it and put it under the tree.

          If you want to do this, the proper way to do so is to give the person the (wrapped, unopened) CD as a gift, and then, some days later -- not when you give it, you dolt -- when the person says they enjoyed the CD, ask if they would lend it to you. Don't say, "...so that I can rip it, because I bought it for you thinking I'd be able to make a copy for myself..." because that's tacky, too.

          They say it's the thought that counts, and your thought is "What's in this gift for me?"
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mr_matticus (928346)
          So wait. You give people opened CDs as gifts? I hope for the recipient's sake that they're used to begin with. Talk about bad form, to say nothing of the copying.

          That's like giving someone a six pack of beer with one missing. Sure, it could be really good beer and the six pack might exceed some arbitrary spending limit, but how tacky can you get?

          I get that the gift market point is why you got modded up, but I still think that's a stretch at best. I can't think of anyone who cares about getting the actu
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by madbawa (929673)
      With more and more people listening to iPods and music on their mp3-phones or other tiny music gadgets, its no surprise that soon we'll have our next generation born partially deaf or with their ears insensitive to certain frequencies. That is to say, the ears will have a narrower frequency response band. I know many people who are already partially deaf due to listening on their iPods 24x7. People listen to music even in the noisiest conditions of construction work or a traffic snarl. This causes the volum
      • Re:Not yet (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AeroIllini (726211) <aeroillini@@@gmail...com> on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:49PM (#19645263)

        With more and more people listening to iPods and music on their mp3-phones or other tiny music gadgets, its no surprise that soon we'll have our next generation born partially deaf or with their ears insensitive to certain frequencies.
        That has nothing to do with the genetics of hearing. If a soldier gets an arm blown off in a battle, does that mean he has a higher chance of having kids with only one arm? Of course not.

        Get-off-my-lawnism aside, I've found that most people who are satisfied with iPod quality music have either never been exposed to proper audio reproduction, or they just don't care that much. Not everyone wants a medium-rare filet; some people just want a cheeseburger.

        Cheeseburgers and blown-off arms in the same post. Take that, mods!
    • Re:Not yet (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pushing-robot (1037830) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:13PM (#19644857)
      You realize, of course, that CDs are not magical entities, fanciful vessels which contain the entirety of a musical performance. They lose detail just like every other means of recording sound. If you can create an alternative means of encoding sound that takes less space and sounds equally good (in a double-blind test), then it's a better method for holding music. Granted, having some overhead is good for future editing or re-encoding, but we've come up with much better ways to store MORE useful information in LESS space than CDs use.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Not only the under 25 crowd, but the good majority of people don't care. The majority of people do not have a high enough quality system in their homes that it will really make a difference between compressed and uncompressed songs. Even if the sound system is good enough, many people simply cannot tell the difference, especially if the music is compressed at a higher bitrate/better format than the "standard" 128 kbps MP3. And if it doesn't actually sound any different, why bother?
    • by realmolo (574068)
      I'm sure overall music sales are down, if you are looking at nothing but the dollars spent on music. But I wonder if individual SALES are up? I mean, people don't buy 18$ CDs, but they DO buy 99 cent tracks. I have a feeling that if you look at the "number of music purchases made" figures, they're probably right in line with what they've always been. Maybe even higher.

      As far as CDs sticking around because of the "inferior quality" of compressed tracks goes-

      Give me a break. Nobody cares. Good enough is
    • Re:Not yet (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bladesjester (774793) <slashdot@@@jameshollingshead...com> on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:14PM (#19644883) Homepage Journal
      Add to that the fact that some of us actually like the physical media and the artwork that comes with it.

      The other thing is that, with most people just snagging a song or two from an album because they heard it on the radio, they will never really know if they like the rest of the band's work. I've bought cds for one or two songs and ended up liking the rest of the album.

      I'm just kind of tired of the teenage crowd constantly crowing that the CD doesn't matter. Heck, I'm only in my 20's and I see the benefit to CDs, but that may also be the occasional DJ in me.
    • I Still Buy CDs (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xdc (8753) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:48PM (#19645249) Journal
      Amen to no compression / lossless compression. I just bought like 5 CDs today. Not only is sound quality a huge factor, but I perceive some benefit to owning tangible, non-DRMed media rather than something that's filling up a hard drive which can go bad, or home-burned CD-Rs collecting dust in a closet. If I want to make car listening copies or custom compilations, I can rip the CDs onto the computer. From there I can also copy to an iPod-type device. But I don't have to. For my money I already have a plastic disc with printed liner notes which I don't need to fool around with if all I want is a quick listen.

      With downloaded music, not only is the audio lossy, but then I also have to spend my precious time producing archival or car listening CD-Rs on my own separately-purchased, questionably-durable media, labeled with a Sharpie or some mediocre inkjet-printed sticker.

      And what about rare music? When some remix/promo single or obscure album/12" is long out of print and not carried by places like the iTunes Store, and the torrents have all died down, I may still be able to track down an authentic, full-quality release at a used/collectible shop. I doubt I could be so lucky with old download-only releases, where any company hosting them would likely be sued out of business.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Gazzonyx (982402)
        I buy CDs, too. The physical medium is great; the first thing I do is import the CD to my computer (MP3 or AAC), then I take the CD to my shop bench. I then procede to sharpen the edges with a grinder and cut it into the shape of a ninja star.

        The bent appeal of this is the irony of me launching my own personal CDs at the RIAA when they come 'a knockin', Tony Montana style, from a custom CD launcher. I was going to only download MP3s, but the mental image of me on the balcony shouting, "Say 'ello to my

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I agree. I've bought music online before from iTunes. And I likely will again (if it's just one song or two that I want rather than entire CD).

      But 98% of the time, I will buy a CD and then rip it. I will get much better quality with my own rip than I will buying from an online store. Even worse are the files on P2P networks. Legal issues aside, most of them are ripped by 15-year olds that have no clue as to how to rip a high quality file (i.e. with high bitrates).

      If the online music stores want to switch f
    • FLAC is a loseless audio compression technology doing the rounds. Winamp and VLC support it out of the box. Sizes are reasonable: 40 to 50% bears out with experiences mein:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FLAC [wikipedia.org]

      Microsoft Media Player doesn't support it, but who uses that anyway (besides ET and n00bz)?
  • Speaking for myself (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Whuffo (1043790) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:08PM (#19644813) Homepage Journal
    My CD purchasing is zero these days - until the music industry quits harassing their customers and treating the performers as slaves they're not getting a dime from me.

    Maybe others feel the same way?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ozmanjusri (601766)
      until the music industry quits harassing their customers and treating the performers as slaves they're not getting a dime from me.

      Yeah, I voted with my feet (and wallet) a few years ago.

      I go see local bands, and if they have CDs on sale at the door, I'll buy there. That's the extent of my music spending now, and I used to buy half a dozen CDs a month.

      • Most of the music I buy is also from local bands (or self-employed gypsies), or at most small indy labels that probably aren't counted by the big music-industry conglomerates or handled by the big distributors. Bands and individuals can sell CDs directly on the web without going through the big commercial channels - it's not just selling downloadable tracks.

        Also, it's gotten to be much easier for performers to put together their own CDs, and for small music producers to build garage studios for when perfor

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fretlessjazz (975926)
      I think many people make the mistake of always associating CDs with Major Labels. There are thousands of non-major labels who do not choke their musicians by collecting disproportionately large fees from CD sales. My question to you is this: if major labels ceased to exist, and The Artist collected a legitimate proportion of the profits, would you really start buying CDs again? Or has it become easier to dismiss the medium as irrelevant? It worries me that the physical transfer of music in tangible for
      • track arrangement (Score:3, Insightful)

        by r00t (33219)
        That sounds like a playlist to me. I think we could share these on the internet. We wouldn't be limited to 74 minutes. We wouldn't be limited to one single band.

        Say, aren't people doing this right now?
      • by russellh (547685)

        It worries me that the physical transfer of music in tangible form is declining. The art that goes into album design and track arrangement is very important to the message that the artist is attempting to convene.

        As someone who, in the old days, would spend days poring over every detail of each album I'd purchase when I gathered money together, I hear you. But I think the album is largely over except as a kind of convenience package. Just a thought - how does the fact of Dylan's ever changing versions of

  • It's the bands (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OECD (639690) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:09PM (#19644815) Journal

    Personally, I find myself more interested in bands that put their music out on the net and/or sell CD-Rs themselves. (Nerdcore, Wizard Rock, etc.) I can't remember the last time I bought music from someone who the RIAA 'represents.'

    This seems to parallel the increasing niche-ification of magazines and their cannibalization by the web. Not at all suprising, really.

  • inevitable (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:09PM (#19644817) Journal
    Cds did a lot better when people didnt have as much access to online sources of music and when 56k was the rule not the exception. Now that any library, office and a large number of homes have high speed of some sort and more tech savvy people than ever it is no surprise that people are less willing to shell out 15 to 20 dollars on a cd that has a lot of music they didnt personally choose to have. People can go online, download the songs they want and do whatever they want [especially on p22p where DRM just doesnt have a foothold] with their music.
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd,bandrowsky&gmail,com> on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:09PM (#19644821) Homepage Journal
    All the miniaturization is nice, but one thing that has been missing from the music industry since the 1980s is the physical size of the record. A record album was a fairly large thing, and, covers were small posters in their own right. Nowadays, you get a little picture in a plastic case with the CD, which is nice and transportable, for sure, but it is not as effective as a total package visually as a big record used to be.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheSHAD0W (258774)
      Heh.

      Back in, um, '92? I went to my favorite used music store, and they had set out a milk crate filled w/ abandoned albums that had scratches and the people who brought them in weren't able to sell. I bought the whole crate for $3 and covered a wall with them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by OECD (639690)

      A record album was a fairly large thing, and, covers were small posters in their own right.

      Yeah, I grew up with them, loved them, and I remember people bitching about the small size of CDs when they came out, but I never missed it. Probably because I got a booklet with the CD (probably same total area, so it was a push.)

      Then the booklets got smaller and I never missed it. Probably because by then I had the web and didn't need to stare at physical liner notes while listening to an album.

      Now I've got D/Ls

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by halcyon1234 (834388)
      This just means that artists have a different canvas in which to be creative. Just take a look at any Tool CD. There's no arguing that, even on a small square, it's a work of art.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:10PM (#19644829)
    1. It's a high-quality, DRM-free copy of the music which I can convert into FLAC and other digital formats I choose. (Yes, there are exceptions, but it's much better than most online stores).

    2. I have a semi-permanent copy which I can re-rip as many times as I want.

    3. Shiny.
  • by FreezerJam (138643) <(smith) (at) (vex.net)> on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:13PM (#19644861)
    ...but away from albums, too.

    People are finally able to buy singles again. How much of this drop is due simply to people only buying the two good tracks from an album and leaving the other eight behind?
    • by suv4x4 (956391) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:34PM (#19645113)
      People are finally able to buy singles again. How much of this drop is due simply to people only buying the two good tracks from an album and leaving the other eight behind?

      Agreed, the irony of this is their own marketing tactics have made this possible. It's not as much the rest of the tracks are crap, but they're just not marketed, if you don't listen to them enough, you don't like them, and think they're worse, and hence not buy 'em.

      And hence the "one good single and the rest is filler" talk.

      To confirm this, just try to listen to a new "super album" without ever hearing the marketed single (hard, I admit). You'll never guess which is the song marketed on 80% of the albums. It's actually often decided post factum after the album has been recorded.

      Forbes.com [ran] an article showing that CD sales are expected to be down 20% in 2008 (slightly higher than the 15% drop initially predicted). Why such a drop? What's truly happening is a gradual shift away from physical media to downloadable formats.

      Exactly right, and this is why I'm pissing my pants laughing here watching the HD-DVD/Blu-Ray race. They seem to genuiely don't understand, that whoever wins, they both lose in the end. Just consider the amoutn of money spent on technology, production and marketing on those duds. That's funny, right.
    • by moosesocks (264553) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @12:10AM (#19645411) Homepage
      I wouldn't say that the music has changed at all. Some musicians work best in the medium of the album (Pink Floyd, The Beatles, etc..), whereas some musicians work best in the context of individual songs (one-hit-wonders, and 90% of the "top 40" artists).

      I would say that (for the past few years at least), good solid albums have stuck out more in my mind than individual singles have. This is especially true among independent artists.

      A few somewhat recent albums that I've enjoyed as a whole (in no particular order)
      • The Crane Wife by The Decemberists
      • Boxer by The National
      • Plans by Death Cab For Cutie
      • Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer by Of Montreal
      • The Magic Position by Patrick Wolf
      • Funeral by The Arcade Fire
      • Cassadaga by Bright Eyes
      • "Cross" by Justice
      • A Weekend in the City by Bloc Party
      • Illinois by Sufjan Stevens
      • Armchair Apocrypha by Andrew Bird
      • Like the Linen by Thao Nugyen
      • In The Aeroplane Over The Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel (10 years old, but arguably one of the most influential albums of those 10 years)


      and the list goes on.... There have been quite a few high-profile "popular" albums released by popular artists such as Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Justin Timberlake, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, all of which are very much intended to be played as an entire album.

      At a show I recently went to, I bought the band's CD on a whim because I enjoyed the show. As the guy handed it to me (he was the band's bassist), he encouraged me to copy it, share it, email it, or "do whatever you want to get the word out." The side you don't hear is that most small artists owe much their very existence to the internet.

      So, no. The album is far from dead. Even though popular music has almost completely gone to shit in the US, the independent music scene is arguably the best it's ever been.
  • I hope not... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spoco2 (322835) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:13PM (#19644869)
    At least, I hope a physical medium for purchasing and keeping your music is not on the way out.

    I hate downloaded music, I hate having nothing but some files and a printed out cover to show for my money (or no cover etc. if I'm not going to back them up individually).

    I love having shelves of cds, with their cover art, their liner notes etc. I love the hard, physical format of them.

    I'm forever worried that I'll lose or misplace, erase or whatever the tracks I've legally downloaded...

    I want physical music delivery to remain dammit!
  • by stubear (130454) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:15PM (#19644893)
    ...until it's uncompressed CD quality audio, I don't care if it's protected by DRM to disallow sharing, as long as I can rip the files to AAC, WMA, or whatever other format I choose and copy them to digital audio players I have authorized for my personal use. Until then I'll only buy CDs.
  • no wonder, they become obsolete. In a time, when many DVDs are available for 8 dollars or less, a typical CD is just too expensive. Burn it onto DVD and sell it for half of what it costs now, sell it "previously viewed" on the street like many DVD shops do now. I would not be surprised if profits would go up.
  • None of the Above (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:16PM (#19644901) Homepage Journal
    People don't have a fixed budget for CD's and now they're hoarding it now because the music sucks - they have a certain amount of disposable income that they allot to entertainment, and they're not spending it on CD's as much as they used to. DVD sales only peaked last year - does it surprise the heck out of everybody that just as DVD players became affordable CD sales started to tank? People are also buying hi-def screens and home theaters in record numbers. Back in 1986 lots of people weren't used to buying VHS tapes, and they still bought records and then CD's and spent time sitting around listening to music. Most people don't do this anymore, they watch movies or premium cable or shows on their DVR's.

    RIAA, meet MPAA. Sony, Universal, Warner - you're competing with yourselves.
    • by Technician (215283) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @02:02AM (#19646127)
      RIAA, meet MPAA. Sony, Universal, Warner - you're competing with yourselves

      Excellent point. The CD is generaly compressed to sound loud. The DVD has THX cert in most cases. In most cases a 5 year old film is marked down while a 5 year old CD is still at full retail. I buy DVD's pre-viewed for either 2,3, or 4 for $20. CD's are lower quality, have higher prices, have dropped technical standards for quality and the industry is attacking their best customers.

      I bought more DVD's last week than I bought CD's all of last year. Guess why?
      The music cartel has failed to compete for the entertainment dollar.

      How about some new permissions given in the legal copies of their product? Say a public performance license? I have a good sound system. The CD's come with a license which prohibits taking my CD's and DJ'ing a school dance or other performance. I used to do some DJ type stuff at a hobby level until I found out it was in violation of the terms. To get legal was way too expensive for 3-6 gigs a year, so I simply folded. Needless to say this reduces the need to buy CD's by reducing their value simply because their use is restricted.

      That one item is one of many restricting the usefuleness of CD's and reduces their value. Inspite of the reduced value, the price remains quite high. Then they wonder why sales are poor. They need a cluestick. I'm watching u-tube at the moment watching Pink Floyd Live. I don't need the shiny disc to enjoy music anymore. Give me a valid reason to part with lots of hard earned cash for a restricted use item. I find more value elsewhere. I spend more on monthly internet than I ever used to spend on LP's and cassettes.

      Money I used to spend on music is spent on better values elsewhere.
  • Buying music without being able to sample each track is a hard sell these days. People are now used to being able to take an albeit brief listen to nearly every track on a CD before making a decision to buy. You can do that of course on either online CD purchase sites like Amazon, or iTunes. One of those will give you the music immediately, and generally for less than a new CD.

    Buying music at a Brick & Mortar is buying blind. Usually they only have a small selection available on preview machines.. i
  • Personally, I haven't bought a new CD in months, and that's due to one reason only. I'm in college and I can't afford them. $10 for a forty to fifty minute album doesn't seem like a very good deal when that can be used something like food or a longer-lasting form of entertainment.
  • by Nyeerrmm (940927) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:19PM (#19644951)
    I bought a CD on saturday, and I'm enjoying listening to it. There are quite a few reasons I bought it in a CD format.

    1. I like it uncompressed, I probably couldn't hear the difference with the new iTunes DRM-free tracks, but I don't have to worry about recompressing them later and having the flaws come popping out.
    2. I run linux and it's really a PITA to boot over to windows to use iTunes, and eMusic doesn't have some of the artist I enjoy.
    3. The cover art and the convenience of having a disk for the car premade with a nice pressing is enjoyable.
    4. I want to buy from artists I enjoy so they can keep making music

    I don't see online distribution quite solving these things yet. ALthough, I will admit, most consumers are a lot more apathetic about these issues than me.
  • Classic responses (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly (148874) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:22PM (#19645005)
    1) the Indie Douchebag. This Slashdotter will claim he only buys from 'local' or 'indie' bands, namely, his friends' garage band.

    2) the Audiophile Loudmouth. This one buys 24k gold plated CDs, listened to on a 20bit DAC feeding monster-cabled speakers that he bought at Best Buy.

    3) the Pirate. You all suck, Gnutella FTW!

    Face it, none of the dorkwads on here, myself included, is representative of the mouthbreathers at Walmart whose choices power the economy.
  • Is it that manufacturers are putting out more and more 'safe' (read: crap) music

    Where on earth did so many people on slashdot get the bizarre misapprehension that pop, lowest-common-denominator music is somehow more prevalent now than it's been in the past? It's always been there, at least since the 50's, and if you weren't conscious during the 80's and 90's, I assure you that the majority of music released during the decades was "safe" bubble gum pop. Think back, do you remember that music? No? Of course you don't, it was immensely forgettable and put out for a quick buck.

    And I know that 10 years from now the same people who try to paint this phenomenon as new will be repeating the same mantra again and again, "remember back in the early 2000s when music was good, before they started releasing commercialized garbage?".
  • by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:35PM (#19645129) Homepage
    Sell for $5-$10. Music sales will go way up. "piracy" will still be around, but more people who like what they download will actually go out and buy the CD and encode themselves. Compressed music should really just be an advertisement for the real product. While at it, get rid of the stupid DRM schemes, ok?

    Kind of offtopic....

    WTF don't companies who make boomboxes that can read mp3 CDs put DVD drives in instead? It sure would be nice to have a 4GB fully integrated solution for weekend camping. Oh well. I'll just stick to the sansa with a boomtube, I guess.
  • Why CDs are good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geophile (16995) <jao@@@geophile...com> on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:37PM (#19645141) Homepage
    I listen to MP3s exclusively, but buy only CDs because:
    • CDs are higher quality than MP3s.
    • They serve as another layer of backups.
    • I can rip them to whatever level of quality I want and get DRM-free music.
    • Buying individual tracks, I'd miss some great music. CDs are full of unappreciated gems. There's often a lot of filler, of course, but the obscure tracks make it worthwhile.
  • I prefer CDs. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MaWeiTao (908546) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:48PM (#19645255)
    I still prefer CDs over MP3s. First, I don't like paying for something that I consider ephemeral. I still like to have something physical. It's convenient to purchase music online. Then I have the hassle of backing up this music if I reinstall my OS, or get a new machine. And that's assuming I'm allowed to make copies.

    Second, it seems like I'm more restricted in how I can use my music when purchasing online. It seems easier for a company to control content that way. Sure, there are ways to defeat any copy-protection, but sometimes it's a hassle.

    I'd rather buy a CD, convert the songs I want into MP3s and be done with it. That way I have the comfort of knowing I have a reliable, high quality backup which I can even stick in my sound system when I'm so inclined.

    So going online I'd spending as much as I have with CDs, but I end with with nothing physical to show for it. No album art, no booklet, not CD, nothing. Just some crappy 600x600 jpg if I'm lucky and an MP3. Maybe I'll embrace that medium some day, but only when it's evolve far beyond its current form.
  • by core_dump_0 (317484) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @12:11AM (#19645415) Homepage
    1. (99% of the time) No DRM
    2. Better quality sound than lossy formats like MP3
    3. Album art
    4. Out of print, import, and rare CDs (which most of my CD purchases are) may become collector's items down the road
    5. Convenient backup if you lose the ripped FLACs
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @12:30AM (#19645519) Homepage Journal
    I've said this before and I'll say it again. We need a format that does not depend on the storage technology used. The pen-drive (aka flash drive) is perhaps the closest we have to such because the computer only cares about the interface, not the storage surface. Time to dump disks altogether for anything we want to last. (Pen-drive storage bits as they currently are may not last, but at least the interface is the same such that if they come up with a longer-lasting storage method inside, it would still work in old pen-drive slots.) In software-engineering speak, we need to separate the interface from the implementation.
  • Loudness War (Score:3, Informative)

    by joaod (1120153) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @01:05AM (#19645793)
    As far as i'm concerned, i seldom buy pop/rock CD's because of the quality of the sound. I don't know it this is the reason why people in general are abandoning CD's, but it's my own reason. As some ppl here said, CD's are being badly masterized resulting in hyper-compressed, clipped music with no dynamic range whatsoever. The great advantage of the CD medium is it's enormous dynamic range (90db,) compared to other mainstream mediums like the vinyl, but instead of taking advantage of this, sound engineers follow the trend and prefer to push things all way up. Well it happens that they can't do this compreesion mess in vinyl because the needle would jump off tracks, so, in many cases, we end up having much better quality sound on vinyl. When i really like an album but i hate the way it sounds, i'll end up buying the vinyl version. If there's no vinyl available i'll put in in a list for a future buy, when this loudness war will be over and i will have the chance to get a proper remastered CD version. Red Hot Chilli Peppers are a good example of this: they asked another sound engineer to remaster Stadium Arcadium in vinyl (unfortunately not on CD) and surely anyone can tell the diference from the bad, loud, and clipped sound (CD) and the a very well crafed masterization in the vinyl version. For a better explanation about this subject i recommend everyone to watch this video [youtube.com]. And talking about mp3, as CD's are kept to maximum average loudness we can less ear the subtilities of each instrument so there's no point in talking about quality and there isn't a great difference between a CD and a MP3. We are using very few of the extent capabilities of the CD medium with actual pop/rock rules of "hot" masterizing.
  • Serves em right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by realityfighter (811522) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @01:21AM (#19645881) Homepage
    I said it back then, and I'll say it again now: the recording industry should have been making huge inroads into digital delivery way back in the Napster era. Now sales for their main medium are collapsing and they don't have enough control over the new delivery system to milk it for enough of a profit. (They did try to control the new system - pity they didn't realize that the best way to control it was to provide the best digital delivery system on the planet and make it ubiquitous. The solution was not to try to rein in the technology, and certainly NOT to haunt their potential buyers with the constant threat of lawsuit.)

    I'm not making a defense of piracy here, I'm just saying that RIAA members made some really BAD business decisions back in the day, the main result being that they now have to rely on a computer manufacturer to give them the digital release portal they should have built for themselves. Serves the idiots right.
  • by SpryGuy (206254) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @01:22AM (#19645893)
    Who are these idiots who only buy downloaded tracks? I cannot fathom that.

    I want to OWN my music. I want it to be uncompressed, un-DRMed, and I don't want to have to pay for it all again should my MP3 player die, or my hard disk bite the big one. If I change MP3 player brands, I want my music to be compatable, and to not have to rebuy it.

    CDs are great. They play everywhere. There's a CD player in my car. My car does not have an MP3 player that I can "sync" with my music library, nor does it have a way to connect my MP3 player to my Car's audio system.

    The notion that CDs are becoming obsolete is absurd.

    I don't pay a cent for any downloadable music that isn't the free and open and universal MP3, and even then I burn it to a CD so I can play it anywhere I want.

    Besides, when you download, you don't get anything PHYSICAL. You don't get liner notes, lyrics, artwork, or even "track order". Music and albums are so much more than just collections of "singles". You lose all that on many MP3 players that you have to go out of your way to get the tracks to play in "album/CD order". And it's ridiculous to pay the same for a 20 second "interlude" track as you do for a 15 minute opus track (whether classic, pop, or rock). And finally, being forced to buy the whole CD to get a single song I liked has opened up my eyes and my tastes to lots of music I never, ever, would have heard on the radio. Generally my favorite tracks are not the singles.

    So no, CDs are not obsolete. Not by a long shot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pandrijeczko (588093)
      I agree with you 100%.

      And in addition to what you've said, there is no feeling as good as walking into a shop, whether a new or used CD one, and finding an elusive CD or one that you've wanted for a while at a bargain price.

      My view on people who say CDs are overpriced is that they probably are not buying the right music. When you've got a reasonable hifi (not necessarily hugely expensive) there is nothing quite like turning up a really good piece of music up really loud on it. And if you research your m

  • by hazydave (96747) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @01:58AM (#19646095)
    For those who like album-oriented music AND the option to rip said music, losslessly, to hard drive, the CD is a very good distribution medium. There are potentially better sounding formats (no, not vinyl, but DVD-Audio or SACD), but neither is normally rippable in full quality via digital means. Downloads are these days generally in fine consumer quality for one's MP3 player, but at a lower quality than a CD.

    The problem with CDs is one largely created by the recording industry themselves, in particular, the major labels. In their continual efforts to marginalize artists and own an increasingly large portion of the market, they have drastically cut artist rosters, and increasingly relied on Big Hit Records to maintain their profit levels.

    So a funny thing happened... they replaced "real" artists with those manufactured by the labels; not 100% across the board, but enough to make the hits extremely mandatory, every year.... there were no longer enough established artists with a long-term fan base to fill in the holes between hits. And art has never been something you could put on a production line.

    In addition, most people have a fixed entertainment budget. When I was a kid, you could buy a record or a book, or go see a film, that was pretty much the extent of consumer media. These days, there's music (purchase or download), DVD, videogames, rentals, online subscriptions, etc. All competes for the same buck.

    Legal downloads have become a kind of pressure release valve for much of the listening public. Rather than add to sales, they've reduced them.. the same people who might have chose "CD" over "Game" this month can now just download that hit or two, they only songs they really wanted anyway, and still spend most of their cash on the DVD or game or whatever. I grew up with album-oriented rock radio... I still listen to whole albums, still buy them. But the recording industry destroyed this model with their push to Hit oriented radio... sure, they'd like a CD with multiple hits, but in the downloading model, you have to win each hit purchase, not simply that first one that bags the CD. Most kids don't think in terms of albums, period. This is the same culture that took compilation CDs away from bad K-Tel TV ads and put them (the "Now that's what I call music!" series, for example) into the top 10... that's just another form of single.

    I don't think CDs are necessary anymore, but until there's a lossless download available, with similar pricing, I won't be buying downloads. I did subscribe to eMusic.com sometime back, when they offered unlimited downloads (128kb/s MP3, yeah, but DRM-free), but I dropped it when they went to a limited model... which was single-oriented, even on an "indie" oriented service like eMusic. I can't see spending the same money for a lesser product. The CD is still superior to downloads, but doesn't necessarily remain so forever...

  • by Targon (17348) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @07:35AM (#19647775)
    Out where I am, a new CD costs in the neighborhood of $18-$22. Considering that most CDs have perhaps one or two songs that people know about, and even after purchase it may go as high as 5 songs on a CD, that $18 price seems very high. A large part of this price comes from the high costs of distribution, and also needs to cover the need for the retailers to make some profit on each sale, but in general, that is a huge part of the reason there are fewer sales.

    That really is the problem with the industry, higher and higher costs due to inflation and gas/energy prices(gas for distribution, and energy prices causing the price of everything to go up). When you can download tracks legally, and get only the tracks you want without paying for songs you don't want, you end up better off with a music download. The quality of a CD will be higher in most cases, but why pay $18 for what may be one good track on a CD that you otherwise don't know anything about. As a result of this, you have the people who will download the CD illegally to see if it's worth buying in the first place, but in sampling the music, they find the quality is acceptable, and may not go out to buy the CD.

    Perhaps a better model for the record companies to go into is to push for a change, where customers can walk into a "record" store, and request a bunch of different tracks, which can then be burned to a legal CD for the price. You may end up paying the same $18 for 8-10 tracks, but at least you get a set of songs you actually want, so don't feel ripped off. In addition to this, the store is providing a service(making a mix CD for you), so you feel you get your money's worth.
  • by Prototerm (762512) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @09:15AM (#19648483)
    In the last few decades, recorded music has met with a steady decline on all fronts, not just sales. It's the quality aspect that bothers me. Much has been said about the way record companies hack the sound to pieces by making everything sound like it does on the radio (as if radio isn't total crap). Even older recordings are "remastered" in this way, thereby removing any incentive I have to purchase albums that might be missing from my collection.

    Production: What is interesting is the reviews I see occasionally complaining when a band "sweetens" the music too much -- in other words, adds instruments, or perhaps a whole orchestra to make the recording sound like it wasn't made in somebody's basement or garage. Let's not equate primitive production for good sound, folks.

    Then there's the artists. For every great singer out there, there are a dozen Bob Dylan wannabes. Hey, let's face it, Dylan sounds like he gargles with broken glass every morning.

    Songwriting quality: where are all the pop bands with something to say, other than how much they want to rape and abuse women? Rare, indeed.

    Record companies: In their greed to promote the big hit single in this digital age, they've abandoned the artists capable of holding your interest for an entire album, artists with long-term playability. Pop music today is down right *boring*. The old artists are either dying off or have lost their touch (e.g., Paul McCartney should just give up music and open up a vegetable stand somewhere), while the new artists pay too much attention to what the companies tell them.

    Buy CD's? What on earth for?

    I'll tell you something. My fourteen year old has discovered my LP collection from the 60's, 70's and 80's (about 1200 have survived the ravages of time), and he spends his spare time digitizing them onto the computer. He loves the music and the sound of these old dinosaurs, and will "rip" an LP even where I already have the CD. He hates what's on the radio, and feels like he's found buried treasure in these old archives.

    Buy CD's? Why on earth would he want to do that? He's not finished listening to my LP's yet!

    And there's perhaps the real reason CD sales are in decline: it has too much competition from what people already own. Something like Windows Vista having XP to contend with, I guess.
  • Offer me... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @02:46PM (#19653281)

    Offer me the over-produced manufactured shit that passes for music nowadays and I'll ignore it.

    Offer me DRM-encumbered over-compressed downloads and I will walk away.

    Offer me some decent new music and I'll have a listen.

    Offer me some decent new music in an uncompressed, DRM-free format, and I'll buy it.

    I don't want to be one of the curmudgeons grumbling about all the new music being crap, but the fact remains that I tuned out in the early 1990s, and have heard very little of interest since. My latest (in terms of production date) music purchases are Bailando con Lola by Azucar Moreno and Drama by Bananarama, both released in 2006. Hardly mainstream music, either of them.

    ...laura

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