Compact discs revolutionized the music industry when they were introduced in 1982. Scratchy, skipping records and easily erased audio cassettes, the standard for some time, now seemed terribly outdated. CDs provided cleaner, purer sound and the capacity to program playback and easily jump from one song to another.
Here we are 30+ years later and CDs now seem just as outdated themselves. Songs can now be downloaded in a matter of seconds. If you don’t want an entire album, no problem: just buy the songs you like! Streaming services like Spotify also provide playback capacity without the need for owning physical media.
So, CDs are dead then? Actually, no. People still buy them, though this does not get the media attention that the resurgence of vinyl regularly generates. Digital sales didn’t actually eclipse CDs until 2014, but the sales gap has increased dramatically since then.
That said, there is still a sizeable proportion of consumers who like to have that pressed disc and don’t want to deal with downloading. Over 100 million CDs are still sold every year in the United States and, while that is down from such highs as 730 million in 2000, it is still more than enough to justify the existence of the format.
Do you still collect CDs? I haven’t bought one in ages, but I do still regularly acquire new DVDs and Blu-rays. I like the convenience and permanence of physical media. Many people do not realize that when they download a song from a company like iTunes, they don’t actually own it permanently. The company can take that material back without letting you know in advance. When I buy something, it’s nice to know it is mine until I no longer want it. Then I can re-sell the material; you can’t do that with digital downloads.
Something to think about. There is no question that we are moving away from digital media, but it’s not dead yet.