Are CDs Still Relevant In The Digital Age?


-- Brendan Butler

Besides seeing a phenomenal live show, buying an album at the record store has to be the most gratifying occurrence for many music fans. Think about it: going to the store, browsing covers, submitting to the alphabetized shelf layout for compass direction, and then finally tearing into that factory-sealed album you’ve been salivating over for weeks--that’s what it’s all about.

Buying CDs is becoming a thing of the past, as the new world goes digital, making music accessible through varying outlets on the Web and transferring them to these things called iPods. “iPods,” it sounds like we’re in a bad 1955 sci-fi film where people are ordered by aliens to wear these special devices, that look like hearing aids attached by veins to a remote glued to the palm of their hands, to facilitate the brainwashing messages of their notorious leader, Zolo.

And sometimes, when I’m trying to find tranquility on the subway or take a stroll in Central Park, I think Zolo actually exists and that he’s networking with Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks. My cooler head prevails as I realize this is the just the changing tide and pretty soon the CD will be joining vinyl and the 8-track in phonograph heaven.

But this shouldn’t be happening. The digital age offers nothing tangible to the modern listener. You can’t display files from your hard drive on a stack in your living room to ignite arousing conversation with guests. The compact disc offers something worth traveling for, something worth holding and something worth picking out personally to make yours forever.

Maybe I’m just an angry old man who hates change, but dammit, long live the CD!


-- Michael Fraiman

CDs are like middlemen. They're not really necessary. They’re between vinyl records, which, at this point, exist primarily for collectors, and MP3s, which, at this point, exist primarily for mainstream music listeners.

Who’s left? If you were a diehard fan, you would want to get a vinyl not only because there’s a certain vintage classic connotation to it, but also because vinyl records last infinitely longer than CDs--meaning they last longer than a few decades.

And besides, you want to support a band? Don’t buy a new CD, because frankly, they’re a tad overpriced, and if you want to “support the band” then you’ll have to go to its concert and buy a T-shirt or something. Even if you bought an [overpriced] CD for $15, you’d mostly be paying for the production of the CD itself. Which would be fine if they were the future of music, which of course they’re not, seeing as MySpace and iTunes have become such popular methods of advertising and selling music.

“But, you can share CDs,” one might argue. Well, that’s true--only I’ve had so many albums sent to me in zip format via or, making that a void point, too.

It all boils down to one thing: convenience. CDs are clunky, and they don’t last terribly long. They’re becoming outdated; they’re not classic enough to collect and they’re not small enough to carry around. I’ll put it this way: Next year, I’m traveling to Halifax for university, and I have about five-dozen CDs in my room right now.

I’m buying an iPod.

Where Do You Stand?

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