Anyone connected with the music business, whether as a consumer, a musician, a distributor/retailer, or an executive, has been aware that the long run of the compact disc (since 1985 or so) is nearly over. Once music could easily and illegally be shared or swapped, and once legal download sites and all-you-can-eat subscription music sites were developed, it became clear that the last viable physical format had taken it's last breath, and is officially on life support.
Although some words in the preceding paragraph were deliberately exaggerated, no one would predict anything less for the near future than the almost total demise of music in physical formats. We could only argue about exactly when you'd be able to purchase the last brand new CD on earth - if we really wanted to spend the time doing so.
What this means is, for consumers, that the CDs that are out there now are the last of their kind.
Of course, this isn't a repeat of the mid-'80s shift from vinyl records to compact discs. There are some key differences. For one, the quality of the music on CD and the robustness of the physical format meant that a lot of consumers repurchased albums they already owned back in the '80s. The music industry enjoyed some boom years in the late '80s and early '90s as many CD sales were replacements for worn out, scratched and lost vinyl records.
This is the first time that the replacement format (an mp3) is actually of lower quality than the format it is replacing (the compact disc). Consumers won't be replacing their music on CD with downloads because they have the ability to make better quality copies of their own music themselves. Couple that fact with the prevalence of unchecked torrent sites and a weak worldwide economy, and its clear there isn't going to be an economic boom for the music industry this time to accompany the format change.
But that's just conversation. What's happening is happening.
This is simply the last, best chance to obtain the music that currently exists on compact disc, which also happens to be the best quality format you can get it in.
What's more, a consumer has to ask themselves, why am I going to pay $10 for a downloaded album when there are hundreds and hundreds of CDs available for $10 or less? Pay the same amount for a lower quality, and no extras? That's a bitter pill to swallow, so make sure you know what instant gratification is actually costing you! Having said that, here is Guitar Nine's list of music at a great price on a quality format:
Available music on CD is disappearing rapidly. At Guitar Nine, about 15% of the discs we had in stock at the end of 2007 are already out of print, and not available. You might be able to download some of it somewhere, but in about half of those cases, you can't even do that.
We still have a million dollar inventory here. But, as opposed to say 2002, or 2003, we can't sell the million dollar inventory and expect that another million dollars worth of product will turn up at the front door. It won't happen. No label will repress any title that finally manages to sell out. And neither will any independent artist or label who has been following the trends in consumer spending. Once they are gone, they are gone.
This is it. If you want something that can actually still play in a any CD or DVD player known to man, comes in a 16 bit, 44.1kHz format (audible frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz), can be easily backed up or ripped into a dozen or more quality digital formats, contains photos, notes and credits, looks good sitting on a shelf, and actually has some kind of residual resale value, this is your last chance. The CD could be gone completely at the end of 2010, or 2011 at the latest. Consider yourself notified. The game is over.
There are no more discs.
Dan McAvinchey is a guitarist and composer living in Raleigh, NC.
He believes every musician or composer has the power to write, record and release their own music.
His 1997 CD release on Guitar Nine was entitled "Guitar Haus".
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