Interesting piece posted on Tuesday at Slate about the death (or life, actually) of the CD. According to the article, "Data from the Recording Industry Association of America show that between 2000 and 2005, the number of CDs shipped fell 25 percent to 705.4 million, while their value slipped 20 percent, from $13.2 billion to $10.5 billion. During the first six months of 2006, CD sales dropped 14 percent more." And sales are down another 20% for the first quarter of 2007.
This article follows an acknowledgement of the CD as a dying commodity in the New York Times this Tuesday. But CDs still count for 75% of all sales. And why would physical sales continue, when a CD costs $16 (or more), and a digital download can be as little as $8? While the Slate article pushes the CD off on older (read: over 25) consumers, I'm going to stop short of that, and make a bold prediction. Physical albums will have a revival. Just like vinyl, people will get all nostalgic, they will get sick of Digital Rights Management (DRM), and they will be frustrated by super-compressed MP3 files and other formats that sacrifice sound quality, and they will return to the CD.
Guitar sounds best on vinyl? Everything sounds better when it's on a CD as compared to a compressed, low bitrate MP3. And just like holding that giant black circle and putting the needle to the plastic holds this undescribably awesome, ritualistic feeling, soon enough holding that shiny silver disc will do the same, when you hear that super-fast spin and the laser starts reading that WAV file, and your speakers pump out the jams.
Sure, having an iPod with 100,000 songs at random is convenient and totally awesome coming out of the stereo. But just like the cassette was convenient compared to vinyl (can't spin records in your pickup truck, can you?), the convenience will wear off for the good old classic feeling soon enough.