Whilst discussing music collections the other day, I casually explained that I was running out of shelf-space for my CDs. There was a look of horror on my friend’s face; “you have CDs?” Yes, I do – a lot in fact. “Why don’t you just download music?” True, I could save myself an expanse of space and probably a nice tidy sum by opting for a download as opposed to a disc in the future. All my music is on a hard drive anyway…I could sell them. But alas, the physical format is just something I cannot let go of yet.
At 22, I’ve seen the demise of the cassette; the failure of the MiniDisc; witnessed Walkmans give way to MP3 players and iPods; the final days of singles sold in Woolworths and then the end of Woolworths itself. The disc should be dead. Where is the need for it? We play music on tiny devices that can store not only every song we own, but also every song you’ve ever heard and enjoyed in your entire lifetime.
A few months ago it was reported that HMV had essentially gone bust and I said I wasn’t surprised; buying music from a shop on a disc is completely out-dated, illogical and ridiculous, so why do it? I pondered and came up with only one reason; tangibility. Owning a disc, or a vinyl, is sentimental. I’m not suggesting that anything in my music collection is worth loads of money, but the physical format has the possibility of becoming collectible, whilst a download cannot. Also, you can’t wrap a download and give it as a birthday present – it just does not work. Holding a CD, reading the booklet, looking at the album artwork – that’s all part of the music experience.
I know the death of the disc is coming and that music sales are increasingly in favour of downloads. However, for now I raise a glass to the CD and thank it for many hours of listening pleasure, which will long continue, at least for me.