Tuesday, February 03, 2009

the slow death of the cd


It still seems like yesterday that I was reading an article in some magazine about a crazy idea that Apple CEO Steve Jobs was about to float out: a new digital store called iTunes. Just how much of a harbinger of doom for traditional music stores this concept would turn out to be was hardly palpable at the time; I definitely remember the article floating sentiments of skepticism across the glossy pages. But harbinger of doom it was, and we have been seeing the effects for close to a decade now.

The most recent bit of gloom was the announcement that in April, Virgin Megastore will cease to operate its two stores in New York City. This comes on the heels of the bankruptcy of Tower Records a couple of years ago, but honestly the death march has been even longer than that. I still remember HMV on the Upper West Side (before it turned into an Urban Outfitters) with fondness, but that has been long gone. Unfortunately, a number smaller independent stores have been forced to shutter their doors as well of late, which is really a shame, since some of these places offered a respite from the cold or the sweltering heat, a place to just sit and listen to the latest offerings when you had nothing better to do—or a craving for new music, and lots of it.

And while I can understand that the concept of the album is going the way of the dodo, it pains me to see CDs becoming more and more scarce. Like collectors of vinyl, I've always had a thing for the look and feel of a physical musical entity. From the shiny (or paper) case to the artwork of the liner notes to the design of the disc itself, I just like manhandling and visualizing a CD album. And I definitely feel like I'm missing out when I buy a song off of iTunes. Sadly, unlike formats of the past, where there was always some newer, smaller format to dream about, there will be no new format to literally have and hold, for the newest (and I predict last) format of music is simply...information.

With that in mind, I'm offering my rebellion. Here are a few genuine, honest-to-goodness CDs I look forward to purchasing, slicing the protector tape off of, and piling up next to my already-too-full CD shelves in 2009: Metric, Neko Case, Doves, Peter Gabriel (if it actually comes out!), Garbage, Massive Attack, and Stars. By the way, Neko Case is running a special promotion to donate money to an animal welfare group for bloggers who post her latest song, People Got a Lotta Nerve, so click on it for a listen! (Okay, now if you liked that, please go out and buy the whole CD, goshdarnit!)

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