Did you know that one of Billy Joel’s albums was the first to be released commercially on CD? I never knew that. Which album? 52nd street. His sixth studio album. When? October 1, 1982. However, the album came out in 1978. It was the first album to be released on CD alongside the first CD player — CDP-101 — from Sony.
- 1974 - initially a project from Philips within the audio industry group
- September 1976 - Sony was demoing its own CDs
- 1977 - group established within Philips to build CDs and players (‘Compact Disc’)
- CD diameter size reduced from 20cm to 11.5cm
- 1982 - Sony and Philips partner to commercially launch the compact disc - diameter at 12cm
State of CD’s Mid-2012
In the US alone, 2011 saw CD sales plummet by 6% while digital album sales grew by 20%. (See Reuters). Quite clearly, the CD is on the way out like the recorded album, cassette tape and vinyl. This doesn’t mean it will be disappear. There will always be a market for those who prefer the format including those that hold fond memories about it. Oddly, no one ever talks about the 8-track though. ;-)
It’s funny to talk to younger folks about my large Vinyl collection in 33, 45 and 78 speed formats. ;-) The 78’s were so strong and hard, you could literally chop someone’s head off with it. Convinced. :-)
I also remember the trials and tribulations with owning vinyl. There were the bad skips already present on the record at time of the purchase. Or the severe warps that forced all of us to take Gravol. Then there was the stress of “putting the needle on the record” carefully to prevent a user-inflicted skip resulting in permanent lifelong depression if the record was of limited edition status.
For me, it all went downhill for vinyl when a limited edition release of Paul Hardcastle’s 19 (German version) kept arriving at Cheapies (Toronto record store franchise) warped or with seriously bad skips. I returned four copies, became disillusioned, and never saw new import versions from Europe after this as Cheapies was THE place to get vinyl imports. Thank goodness for YouTube! :-D
After the Hardcastle incident, I shifted my small disposable pocketbook to CD purchases. Nope, the above mix wasn’t available on CD to the best of my knowledge.
Looking into the future, there’s no doubt that the current generation of listeners is committed to cloud-based solutions and streaming services that allow music to be available from anywhere. That’s a hard thing to compete against. For example, I am an avid user of Apple’s amazing iTunes Match service and have synched and uploaded my entire music collection (CDs) to iCloud. For songs already in Apple’s libraries, iTunes Match instantly adds the songs to my cloud account. For songs not in their catalog, I manually upload. The good news is that Apple has most of the music.
Personally, I do miss the artwork for vinyl and some of the more useful implementations on CD but this isn’t enough to keep me glued to a physical product. The reality is, I like the uncluttered effect of digital with the help of Tunes Match or iCloud to keep things tidy. I can’t see myself stockpiling 800+ CDs on shelving units anymore to manage my collection.
The big debate will rest with the definition of music ownership. When we bought vinyl, CDs, and tapes, we “technically” owned the music — I am sure the legal language spoke to “license” but the point is, we could give the physical product away to someone else. In the digital world, “ownership and transfer” terms are far more complicated. Today, the only way to really give your iTunes collection away is to provide access to your Apple ID. No doubt, other services offer less restrictive options on sharing but you get my point.
What’s your take? Will you miss the CD? Are you still buying CDs? Or mainly digital? I don’t miss the CD much anymore. Time to move on.
- Rock on! The compact disc turns 30 (cnn.com)