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Is the Physical CD Still A Viable Market? 410

An anonymous reader writes "With iTunes and P2P networking dominating the online music scene, does the physical CD have any place in our future? Slyck is running an article on the study conducted by the NPD Group." From the article: "Since its peak sales year in 1999, there has been a steady deterioration in the number of physical CDs sold and shipped. The most immediate blame is typically placed on piracy, however over the course of the last six years this has proven superficial to reasons of more substance."
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Is the Physical CD Still A Viable Market?

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  • Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:20PM (#14928666) Homepage Journal

    CD? Dead. CDR? Alive and kicking! >:)
    • Re:Nope (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rob_squared ( 821479 ) <rob&rob-squared,com> on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:54PM (#14928978)
      Sure, physical CDs still have a market, I think they'll be useful for quite a while for boxed software products.

      Remember when Norton was selling software on Zip disks? I still chuckle at that.

      Now as for music CDs, those may be heading for a downward trend.
      • Re:Nope (Score:4, Insightful)

        by eonlabs ( 921625 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @09:30PM (#14929526) Journal
        This problem would be resolved if they weren't charging the same price for a CD as a DVD Video.
        A friend of mine made a fake death metal band on a dare and has sold out on CDs at $3 a piece, burnt on his own personal machine.

        Sucks to be the people who can't rip the world off anymore.
        Life likes to work that way.
        • by ktakki ( 64573 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @10:57PM (#14929932) Homepage Journal
          This problem would be resolved if they weren't charging the same price for a CD as a DVD Video.

          What does the price of one have to do with the price of the other? Aside from the fact that this is digital information on a shiny plastic disk, there's no comparison. But, hey, I'll compare the two anyway.

          A movie released on a DVD has usually made back its production costs at the box office (and then some). DVD/VHS sales and rentals are a secondary source of revenue for the studio.

          A music CD's sales revenues are the main event for the artist and the label (and no, very few bands make money off of touring and merchandising...very, very few).

          Okay, that's the supply side of things. How about the demand side?

          I own some of my favorite movies on DVD. I own a lot of music CDs, too. I will maybe watch a DVD about five or six times before I get sort of tired of it and lend it to a friend or just stop watching it. Maybe I'll grab it off the shelf to play for a friend that hasn't seen it (and see it through their eyes, which freshens the experience).

          By contrast, I can't count the number of times I've played my favorite CDs. I listen at home, in the car, at work. If I had a nickel for every time I listened to Television's Marquee Moon or Nirvana's Nevermind, I'd be rich enough to throw Steve Ballmer off of the Space Needle and get off on a technicality. $15 spent on a CD is a greater value to me than the same $15 spent on a DVD. Amortize that $15 against the amount of enjoyment you get from that creative work.

      • Re:Nope (Score:3, Insightful)

        by aichpvee ( 631243 )
        Seems they're still doing a huge business at Best Buy last time I was in there. Though you can't buy them at the mall anymore. This kind of article is just more crap tha forgets that most people don't buy things online. Most don't primarily listen to music on digital players. We're a ways off from physical music sales, and hopefully a very long way.

        You ipod kids are welcome to come tell everyone how everyone you know only listens to music on their ipods and that you don't know anyone who has bought a CD
        • Re:Nope (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jZnat ( 793348 ) *
          Don't forget FYE [], an almost entirely CD-filled store common to many malls. CDs won't die until everyone has broadband and music is published in lossless CD quality for a better price than that of a CD.
      • I remember being told in the early 80s that the paper companies were going to be going out of business because of a computer-driven paperless society. Yeah right

        CDs, or similar, are still a very handy medium and will be there for a while still.

      • Re:Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @10:18PM (#14929767) Homepage
        I disagree big time.

        CD sales are booming for Indie artists and local artists. RIAA sales have dropped but simply because the quality has dropped massively and the price has increased. $18.99 for a CD is simply outragous for the low grade crap they sell. Indie artists sell their CD's for $12.99 to $9.99 and typically have better content, the production quality is as good as a $20,000,000 studios is from their basement Mac running garage band, and finally the Indie artist is not encumbered with the massive debt that the RIAA and Racord companies force upon the artists. Very very few signed artist make it out of the debt hole.

        Indie artists are doing great with CD's and as long as there is a CD player in every new car sold they will be very popular, wanted and purchased. It's simply that the overpaid, overpriced, medicore junk that is marketed by the big companies is not selling for some reason. I wonder why that is?
      • by pikine ( 771084 )
        Now as for music CDs, those may be heading for a downward trend.

        When I was young and long before the time of Napster, MP3 used to be the only way I get new music. It was a time when you could find Spice Girls MP3s openly on some web sites and nobody cared. It was a time that it took a Pentium 100Mhz computer 70% of CPU time to play MP3s. The computer I used was hooked up with some crappy speakers, and I couldn't care less.

        Nowadays I pretty much have disowned my MP3 collection, and I prefer buying physical C
    • Re:Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sloth503 ( 46658 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @08:10PM (#14929098) Homepage Journal
      Why is piracy the probable cause of CDs having already hitting their peak in sales? Why isn't it crappy music? Seriously. Why make the jump from CD sales are down to piracy before the jump from CD sales are down due to lack on interest in the talent?
    • Re:Nope (Score:3, Interesting)

      by UNIMurph ( 961484 )
      I still buy CD's for one reason: Sound quality. The average song downloaded from a online retailor is of terrible quality, usually 192kbps or less, and i'll admit a lot of people can't tell the difference between a CD and a MP3(or other losy compression audio format) but i can and thats an issue for me. My MP3 player supports a wide range of file formats, but i usually end up useing FLAC, it eats space but it sounds much better, no digital garble, no washed out cymbols, no muffeled vocals. I guess i have to
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:21PM (#14928674)
    At th thought of not owning physical media with an album. Plus I think the CD has a bonus of liner notes, art etc. I realize most people don't care about this, but I do.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Studios would put out limited CD editions of albums for collectors like yourself. They still do it for vinyls and tapes.

    • You're right, most people don't care. A lot of CDs I've purchased had little content in the booklet. Sometimes it was just one piece of paper with a track listing and some legal info. If I want lyrics to a song, I'll use Google. I can get a thumbnail of the album cover on my iPod anyway. And a lot of people put all their CDs in a case anyway so they can transport them more easily. I think CD sales are going to become a niche market and stores like Fye will have to change their business to stay alive.

    • by conner_bw ( 120497 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:58PM (#14929012) Journal
      My experience [] is that in 1997 it was a whole lot easier to move 1000 CDs than it was in 2005.

      I thought because of the internet and PayPal I'd be able to sell them much easier this time around but it turns out to be false assumption, it's much more difficult. Even with more press, more reviews, more shows...

      I get 100 unique visitors a day on the site because of the free MP3's but people going the extra mille and supporting the product, nope.
      • by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @08:45PM (#14929321) Journal
        I just visit yoour side, but I don't get it ....

        a) its your own music, yes?
        b) you sell it via a web site?
        c) you sell it as CD but not as download able (buyable) mp3?

        The main problem with your site is very simple: no instant satisfaction.

        The buyer is there and he wants it now not at some undefined time in the future (after mail delievery). Instead of buying your product delayed he is going to buy something else instantly some minutes later.

        The second thing is: the prices are not compdetitive (but they are ok if you bear in mind your manufacturing costs in that small volumes, how ever the ordinary customer does not know that, nor is he willing to pay the price).

    • At th thought of not owning physical media with an album.

      I too want to have a physical object. As long as the RIAA is unable to offer DRM free alternatives, it will remain a very medium to me.
    • At th thought of not owning physical media with an album.
      At first I thought that I agreed with you, but then I thought about the random casettes that show up while cleaning the nether regions of my house. Just toss them.
      For the collector market, i imagine hard copies will always be available. You can still buy some new artists on viynl (SP)...
      When I buy a CD, it is because an artist isn't available on iTunes. And then the CD gets loaded into iTunes, and the physical CD gets stored as a backup or given
    • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @08:32PM (#14929235)
      At th thought of not owning physical media with an album. Plus I think the CD has a bonus of liner notes, art etc. I realize most people don't care about this, but I do.

      Current technology permits printing to your own CDs. You have the Canon and Epson inkjets, as well laser etching as with Lightscribe via HP and LabelFlash by Fuji & Yamaha, or wax transfer as with the Signature printers. While inkjet is spiffy enough, it's not as spiffy as a true blue silkscreened disk in terms of durability. Wax transfer is OK, at least water proof, but the wax will scratch off. Lightscribe/LabelFlash are monochrome only.

      The cover and booklets are, in the most simple terms, paper and ink. Making your own covers is a time consuming task and people using OEM ink on their printer can make one but at the cost of bucks a piece, where as commercial printing can produce a better product in bulk on mass for less. I've said this before but the best way to cash in on the pirate market is to offer for sale licensed covers and booklets for the consumer as a form of license to listen to the media no matter where they got it from.

      Even those who don't care about booklets and cover art might care about a disc with a spiffy spine that they can spot on a shelf, rather than a slew of unmarked cases. This is something worth paying a few bucks each for.
  • Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Saeed al-Sahaf ( 665390 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:21PM (#14928679) Homepage
    Not everyone is interested in "investing" 200 plus in an iPod.

    Not everyone who listens to music even owns a computer!

    Many people, while not Luddites, are not as tied to technology as many Slashdottes and 20-somethings.

    • Re:Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:30PM (#14928758) Journal
      I own a computer. I own an iPod. I own a mobile 'phone with an RS-MMC slot and an MP3/4 player.

      The only way I can buy music that will play on all of these is to buy the CD and rip it to AAC myself. If I buy WMA audio, I can't listen to it on my iPod or 'phone (or my computers, easily, since none of the run Windows). If I buy iTMS music, I can listen to it on my iPod and computer, but not my 'phone.

      Eventually the record labels will have to realise that DRM helps vendor lock-in, but does nothing to prevent piracy, and that it works against their own commercial interests. In the intervening period I will avoid online music retailers.

      • Re:Nope (Score:5, Interesting)

        by NitsujTPU ( 19263 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:48PM (#14928923)
        You can strip the DRM on the iTunes music. I probably shouldn't admit to it, but this is how I listen to music under Linux. I should mention that I don't share the music after stripping the DRM and that, if there were a way to do this without stripping the DRM, I would.

        I use iTunes under Windows, then JHymn ( []). The unencrypted files will play problem-free under Linux and can translated into MP3s without issue as well.
        • Re:Nope (Score:5, Informative)

          by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @08:18PM (#14929157) Journal
          I take it you haven't upgraded iTunes for a while. JHymn still doesn't work if you have installed iTunes versions after 5.0.1. The current version is 6.0.4.
      • Of course you CAN listen to it on whichever device you want. It just requires a few extra steps and a loss in quality (that I certainly wouldn't notice, but I'm a head banger).

        But your point is well taken.

        I don't think that the music industry will abandon DRM, however. As much as it keeps users from doing whatever they want, it also slows down rampant piracy. Yes, I did say SLOWS DOWN and RAMPANT.

        Apple has sold more than a billion songs, and they're all DRM'd (at least I think all of them are). If they
      • You can easily burn any of your iTunes purchases to a CD, which you can then use in exactly the same way as a store bought CD.

        Some people claim this results in noticably worse sound quality, but I've never seen any evidence for that.
    • Re:Nope (Score:4, Interesting)

      by slashbob22 ( 918040 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:32PM (#14928777)
      There is no way CD's are going to disappear in the near future.

      As a Slashdotter and a 20-Something: The only music I have purchased online was from a gift certificate - it was so terribly DRM laden and hindered that I vowed never to go back. I will only purchase CD's, at the end of the Day I have a tangible product and I can use it anywhere I want. Yes, I fall into the category which rips CD's and if this becomes illegal then you can be sure that I will NOT help the recording industries bottom line unless they can prove that I have some control over how I use the product that I purchased.
    • Re:Nope (Score:3, Funny)

      by pilgrim23 ( 716938 )
      agreed. After all I just invested in a new 100 pack of steel needles for my Victrola. As long as the crank works, I can hear my Al Jolsen, Bessie Smith and Perry Como whenever I want and on top of that; the Andrew Sisters still look good on their faded liner notes. Beat that Apple!
    • Yup! (Score:3, Insightful)

      Many people, while not Luddites, are not as tied to technology as many Slashdottes and 20-somethings.

      Your logic is flawed. You only took a snapshot of our current day, but fail to see the trends.

      Remember the times when the Walkman [] was an expensive gadget? It wasn't long until it took off. MP3-CD players are inexpensive to get, computers are pretty popular right now (remember you don't need a Pentium 3200 to burn / rip a CD), and cybercafes are available to anyone at $1 / hr.

      Also remember that today's 20-som
    • Indeed. Not only that - if there's a decay in the number of CDs sold and shipped, blame it on the poor quality music that record labels have been pushing the last 5 years and its price. Why would someone buy a CD to listen to a hit single when you can download from eMule (or buy the track from iTunes) and not be stuck with an overpriced CD when you grow tired of it?

      CDs, like it or not, are still alive and kicking, mainly because they are mostly hassleless to use, are long lasting, players can
    • I can tell you right away why I havn't purchased any CD's lately. It is because the crap that is made now is just that, crap. I mean I am sure there are some songs here and there that are good, but certainly not enough to cause me to go to a store and buy a CD for 1 song...

      What ever happened to "albums"? I mean actual pieces of work which as a WHOLE are something more then the individual songs? When was the last time there was something like that?

      Let me put it this way, I am probably the quintesential,

      • I agree with pretty much everything you've said. I admit, to my slight embarassment, that I've found a haven of sorts in Dutch pop (most sing in English). Relatively obscure artists like K's Choice, Anouk, Venus in Flames, Sarah Bettens, Woodface, and Admiral Freebee are still releasing some pretty good stuff. It ain't Pink Floyd, but it's so much better than mainstream US stuff. I'm someone who can't sit through the whole Coldplay album that everyone raved about.

        I also love Bruce Cockburn, who was amazing

    • by DoninIN ( 115418 ) <> on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @08:41PM (#14929290) Homepage
      This is more pronounced than many of the younger among you realize, for instance I'm a geek, I read slashdot every day, I am technologically literate, but I'm old, I still buy CDs when I want music I don't really see me buying an IPOD any time soon, I don't download music and while I was briefly interested in the idea of a media center PC I haven't really planned or budgeted for one at any point in the near future. Worse I have a lot of friends who think like I do, we're just old. Not so much luddites. (I have 3 PCs sitting on the desk while I type this, two dinosaurs, and two of have multiple boot, so I'm hardly a technophobe.
  • by Isaac-1 ( 233099 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:22PM (#14928688)
    I know this is not what the author was talking about, but there is plenty of life left in the lowly music CD in the form of short production sales. You know the types where the band sells them after performing for $10-15. Also as production costs drop, on burning speeds increase there may well be a market for all sorts of other on demand CD writing. The music store is the thing that is in danger, not the CD.

  • by xzanthar ( 543209 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:23PM (#14928706)
    This is probably a more reasonable question to apply to games, especially online games. With digital distribution of games like through Steam, the need for physical media becomes obsolete. Steam has a good way of dealing with those who don't want to be online all the time as well, you just have it remember you, and you can still play a game that has been activated. But it also is becoming more and more the case for music as well. But of corse there are those who still want physical property to lie around and take up space, and to wear out in their cd players. The counterpoint to that being that could burn their digital music to cd anyway.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:23PM (#14928707)
    CDs are necessary because they offer a constant, nondegrading which is free from the compatibility and format hassles of digital distribution and which you can be fairly guaranteed will work on simple, easily acquirable, and arbitrary hardware into the reasonable future.

    Of course, the people actually selling CDs are no longer offering this, now that they load up their CDs with "copy protection" technologies which circumvent security measures, often mimic viruses, and in some cases fill the error-checking bits with garbage, thus hastening degradation of the CD-- and which the consumer is giving no warning that these technologies are present.

    Which is why I don't buy CDs anymore.
    • Of course, the people actually selling CDs are no longer offering this, now that they load up their CDs with "copy protection" technologies which circumvent security measures, often mimic viruses, and in some cases fill the error-checking bits with garbage, thus hastening degradation of the CD-- and which the consumer is giving no warning that these technologies are present.

      Which, of course, is illegal almost everywhere, since such a product is not a CD and representing it as such is misleading.

    • "Of course, the people actually selling CDs are no longer offering this"

      Au contraire []!

      OK so it ain't Top 40 radio but indie musicians need (and, perhaps, deserve) more support anyway.

      But then again, IIAIE (I Am An Indie Musician)...
  • I know several people that want to own a phsyical piece of property (CD in this case), and would spend extra money, just to have the shiny CD. Not to mention those people that don't have enough knowlege about computers to actually figure out how to download music. Add to that, the hassle of having to burn music onto a CDR to play in your car, and I can STILL see a vibrant market for CDs. Give it several more years, and then I think the market will shrink further.
  • Free-er media (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gertlex ( 722812 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:23PM (#14928709)
    I still think of the cd as a freer media for getting music... I can own the cd, rip to whatever format I want, and no one is going to bother me... On the other hand, I still haven't looked hard at the online DL services (the legal ones, mind you), but I get the distinct impression that they're all going to restrict me somehow. Naivity says I'm going to want to have the music files i have now for the rest of my life.
    • I think that what sells downloads to the general population right now (i.e. teenagers) is the now factor. The Web 2.0 demographic are impatient and impulsive.

      The rest of the world, on the other hand, might consider the quality of a purchase and the purchase price before buying. I know for me, I can generaly get albums for a few dollars cheaper on iTunes than I can buying the physical CD.

      However, like the parent, I'm paranoid about losing my music. With a pre-version 6 iTunes [] and JHymn [] I can feel good

  • Yes, But. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:24PM (#14928714)
    > Is the Physical CD Still A Viable Market?

    Yes, but.

    ...but only because it's the only way you can legally acquire a lossless, DRM-free set of bits to encode into the MP3, OGG, or AAC for the device of your choosing.

    (Note that you can legally acquire a lossless DRM-free set of bits. Whether or not it's legal to rip those DRM-free bits, on account of your computer not automatically running the DRM/Spyware/Rootkit shipped with the CD, or on account of it not being able to run the DRM/Spyware/Rootkit shipped with the CD, has yet to be determined by the courts. But acquiring the DRM-free bits is legal.)

    The most interesting case of the upcoming decade will be whether the DMCA's anti-circumvention rules apply to a DRM-laden CD - ripped to MP3 on a machine that didn't support Windows Autoplay, from a drive and/or OS that presents both the .wav "files" and the data track with the autoplaying rootkit as separate sets of files, without any intervention from the user.

    • Re:Yes, But. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Ant2 ( 252143 )
      So, if I go to a library with my laptop and rip a few tracks from a non-DRMed CD, is that considered fair use? I'm not breaking any encryption. Is that any different than copying a few pages out of a library book?
      • Re:Yes, But. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dvdeug ( 5033 )
        Fair use isn't trivial. It depends on what you copy (not just how much) and why. Ripping a library CD probably wouldn't be fair use, since it impacts the commercial value of the CD and there's no mitigating purpose.
    • Music CD's are definitely NOT lossless. Sure, the higher the sample rate, the more of the signal you have, but even when you record audio on your computer with 48K samle rate, you still loose some. The only perfect and pristine set of audio you will ever have is by listening to the band directly..but we can't always do that. CD audio is pretty good, but not perfect. It's good enough for the majority of people though.
  • I may just be backwards, but I don't like the idea of downloading my music, I like the CD, the case and the booklet with the lyrics. Granted, I only buy 1 CD or so in any given year, and even then I won't pay the $15 they are trying to pump out of me for it. Still, when I do buy music, I want the full CD with all of the stuff which goes with it.

  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:26PM (#14928733) Homepage Journal
    iTunes and such has reduced my need for CDs. I still buy them when I find that I want more than 2 songs from any given CD. I figure it this way, if I really like two of the songs I will probably like more of them, so get the real thing. Something about having the "physical" CD around.

    Now what really has crimped my CD buying is MP3s. Not those I buy or download but those I ripped. I am going through music I haven't listened to in many years. Discovering songs I enjoyed way back when and again now.

    Summary, 75% of my new music is individual tracks from iTunes. The remaining 25% only occurs when I find more than a pair of tracks I like on a CD. Of course that means soundtracks are always purchased.

    Are CDs doomed? Probably, simple reason is that they have now become cumbersome. When I can cram a thousand songs in a device less than the size of a CD (width) it becomes apparent which is more convienent for taking the music with me. Its only a matter of time before that convienence influences purchasing them in the first place.
  • The RIAA has the only opinion that matters.

    There's an installed base that will only play standard CDs, but they're also totally rippable. In other words, they can either kiss off the installed base market to bet the farm on DRM or they can keep selling standard CDs and render DRM largely pointless.

    Selling non-DRM ISO images (a la MagnaTune [] is, of course, Not Gonna Happen. Decisions, decisions ...

  • I think it's time for the industry to get creative. With the advent of HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, you should be able go out and buy a "boxed set" of the complete recordings of The Beatles, complete with album art, videos, extras, and features, all on one disk. Throw in a nice little booklet, and you can bet that there's going to be a market for it, and it will be very cheap to produce.

    I do think that physical media like CDs are on the way out, but I think there are plenty of people who will cling to it for years
    • Yes.. and then they'll somehow lock down the songs by album and single and want you to pay for each one to "activate" it.
    • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:55PM (#14928982)
      With the advent of HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, you should be able go out and buy a "boxed set" of the complete recordings of The Beatles, complete with album art, videos, extras, and features, all on one disk.

      It's a nice idea but it will never happen due to two things - customer perceptions & record company greed.

      Think about it - let's say you suddenly decide you like The Beatles and start collecting their recordings. You'll probably end up collecting, say, 20+ albums by them - that's $200/£200/200 the record company gets out of you in total. If you buy the albums on CD, you don't notice you're spending that money because you buy, say, 1 CD a week as you can afford them. And when you have them all, you can look at the nice row of 20 Beatles albums on your bookshelf and feel that the money you spent was worth it because you have a nice big fat row of CDs in front of you.

      But there's no way you're going to spend $200/£200/200 on a single Blu-Ray disc. It's a psychological thing - you pick up the case in the shop and it doesn't *feel* like it's worth $200; so you don't buy it.

      Look at DVD - in theory, we should be all playing audio DVDs now because for the same size of disc, you get anything up to 10x the data storage on a DVD than a CD. But if record companies released audio DVDs that were just straight conversions of existing CD albums (without, say, 5.1 enhancements to the music) everyone would feel cheated because they'd know you could get so much more on each DVD disc - so they wouldn't buy them.

      I'm pretty much the same with my Gameboy Advance, Gamecube and PC games. I've bought very few GBA games because when I look at the size of the box (which is oversized anyway for the size of cartridge inside), it doesn't *feel* like it's worth $50/£35/50. I'm more likely to spend the same money on a Gamecube or PC game because psychologically I feel like I'm getting more for my money.

      From a storage & technical perspective, it would be great to cram my racks of CDs into a space about 1/100th of the size but from selling actual products, this is as much about selling products as it is about technological advancement.

      DVD is the classic example. I now own no VHS videos because I've replaced everything now with DVD. I've therefore bought a lot of movies at least twice in my lifetime (perhaps even more times when I've bought the standard edition DVD, then The Directors' Cut later on). One issue that's convinced me to do that are all the "extras" I get like commentaries, documentaries, deleted scenes, etc. yet, in reality, I probably watch all of those on about 1/4 of the DVDs I actually buy.

      Yes, I admit it. I've fallen for the marketing of DVD hook, line and sinker...

    • In the January sales last year, I bought a classical music boxed set. It contained 40 CDs, and cost £25. At this price, each CD cost less than a single track on iTunes. About 80% of it was both good quality and not a duplicate of something I already owned (in a couple of cases, it was a better recording than the version I had). A this price, I would buy enough music to need to upgrade my iPod annually. At £5-10 for a single CD, I generally have better things to spend my money on.

  • This story is just baiting people, but anyway....

    Of course there will always be a market for CDs (or any physical sound carrying medium) because:

    -Digital music is DRM encumbered--you can't really control what you own. And if you're on the ridiculous Napster-type plans, you're really on a music rental plan and all your music stops functioning after your membership expires. This may apply to the physical media one day to, but for now, this the rule for digital store downloads, and the exception for the phys
  • by dtfinch ( 661405 ) * on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:33PM (#14928791) Journal
    The last music CD I bought had a visible defect causing severe skipping on every single track. Rather than drive 20 miles back to the store I purchased it from to exchange it for another CD (probably from the same defective batch), I just found a torrent of the album and downloaded it.
  • I have about 100 cds, and my collection is still growing. I like being able to have the music in any file format I care to rip it to, having album art, a physical object I can hold, pass around and lend to people etc etc etc.

    MP3s are just files. Just data. You can't hand around an MP3. MP3s can't be packaged, and they are forever MP3s. Worth the extra money. That and my local record place are really good, and I prefer the actual service I get from them rather than the click click done of Amazon or iTunes.
  • by dakirw ( 831754 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:34PM (#14928808)
    People are transitioning over to mp3/ogg/wma files because of those formats are more convenient to use. One sign that these formats are becoming really commonplace is that car makers such as Toyota are starting to make mp3 files a playable option on most, if not all of their models, not just the high end ones. This fact, combined with the convenience of more music (and customized to individual tastes), makes it pretty clear that the prices are too high for the current demand.
  • I remember the days when the CD was hailed as being the ultimate in storage over the puny floppy disk. Now it is getting knocked off its pedestal with all the new flash drives coming out for USB. Soon, 2 GB flash drives will be commonplace, storing data beyond a CD's reach while also being more durable.

    There are two things the CD still has going for it:

    1) It is cheap as dirt to buy and

    2) The data is hardcoded, so it cannot be changed once written and "sealed".

    But it seems hardcoding data is not even

  • people have finished replacing all their tapes with cd's. The only way to save the sales is another format change.
    • That's my excuse :)

      Not so changed from tapes but i added enough CDs to my collection. I am not really into new music and have bought everything i wanted to buy from the back catalogs.

      But, YES, i want CDs (or vinyl) not a file that can evaporate on a whim. And whoever said burn your downloads to CD should be shot, or they need a better HiFi than an Ipod!

      So to sell me music they need to show me an EASY way to find AND sample new music.
  • Anti-piracy ad from the early 90s []
  • ...yes for some people, and no for other people.

    Personally, I find it to be too much of a hassle to maintain a music collection in digital form. It's less work for me to stick a CD on the shelf.

  • I really like my CDs when it comes to hearing "all the sound." A well-recorded CD is only a bit shy of the original format AIFFs from my recordings.

    I honestly think that there will have to be some changes in the electronic-downloaded-music world before CDs become obsolete.

    Are other mediums likely to take over? Yes. I wouldn't bet on anything that says a given (physical or electronic) format is the "be all and end all" for a given media. Technology and smart people will improve things over time. However,
  • by vert2712 ( 749612 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:45PM (#14928895)
    Yes. CDs still make sense even in the iPod age because they provide a durable backup medium even when the content is transfered to a digital device.

    I will keep buying CDs. I don't listen to the actual CD anymore: I just rip it, put the files on my RAID server and listen to the digital version via my computer or my iPod and keep the CD safe in storage. If anything happens to my music (or if, God forbid, i need to re-rip it because a new/better format comes along), I still have the original CD (which I paid for).

    Personally, I hate iTunes and most online digital services: they will end up killing physical media, and that's a bad thing. CDs are (mostly/theoretically) DRM free and you can listen to them on a variety of devices. Digital media is often encumbered by lossy compression and/or DRM.

  • by mattpointblank ( 936343 ) <> on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:45PM (#14928901) Homepage
    For me, CD is still viable, and so is vinyl! I see my friend buying individual songs off iTunes for the price of a sandwich and I laugh at him. If you're going to get digital rips of music (and play them on awful tinny laptop speakers), you may as well just download it for free. When I pay for music I want to be able to touch it. If you've never experienced the joy of owning a 12" picture disc and sleeve, you've never loved music.
    • I know you say you collect both CD and vinyl but I've never understood why some audiophiles think that vinyl in better than CD.

      I do accept that keeping analogue music sound in an analogue storage format (vinyl) means that no sound quality is lost in conversion. But to *really* bring hear that difference, you need to spend a huge amount on a decent turntable, amp & speaker setup - plus, every time you play that album, it will degrade slightly anyway, both in terms of wear on the vinyl and on the stylus

  • by danpsmith ( 922127 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:49PM (#14928926)

    ...with the MP3 version right on the CD itself. That way you can transfer the songs onto MP3 if you are using a computer, or you can listen to the CD if you don't have an MP3 player. I had been doing this when I was still burning regular music CDs using CD-Extra, and I think it's quite a pleasant idea. If you include DRMed MP3s even, this would probably deter people from ripping it themselves. I'd love to just have the MP3s totally, but I think that's a nice compromise at least.

    Now as far as whether CDs will last or not, I think a lot of people only have a CD player and not much else still. I do believe there should be more in the MP3 CD player market. Such as "Get all of Eminem's albums on 1 CD" and such in stores, because a lot of people have MP3 CD players (some don't even know that they do). You could charge a little less for this type of album maybe.

    Another thing I think would be nice is if MP3 players could maybe have an input port for media of some kind. Then offer some type of downloadable cartridge or something (I guess like they did with those song things you can buy at the toy store), and allow the user to copy it to the device and still retain a physical backup, so that you don't have to worry about losing the information if the player stops working

    I definitely am not in the market for a copy of a song in downgrade quality with no physical backup and without real convenience over other types of online downloading. Simply put, in most cases it's easier to bittorrent than itune an album, and also cost effective. Until the industry provides attractive options that in some way enhance the end user's quality, CDs will continue to drop in sales, Itunes (being as it is the only alternative, or just about the only alternative) will continue to rise, and a lot of people will continue to download illegally. Now you can punish all the people, or give them what they want. Pass the savings on, it doesn't cost as much to do digital distribution, so don't charge as much... Either way, I hope CDs hang around at least a little while longer.

  • At least today, you can still rip most CDs (if I had one I couldn't rip, it would go back as defective, period). I prefer higher bit rates (192 Kbps AAC).

    I would never pay Tower prices ($18.99 for a new CD, who the hey are they kidding!) but if I can find an album (er... CD) where I like 5 or 6 songs, I'll pay $11 at Amazon or Target for it. I really do use the CD as the "rip from this" medium, though. I've heard of people that check out CDs from the local library and rip them at high bit rates -- perish
    • I would never pay Tower prices ($18.99 for a new CD, who the hey are they kidding!)

      Hey, come on over for a great music shopping spree to the UK! At the current dollar/pound exchange rate, you'll be lucky to pick up a music CD in HMV or Virgin for anything less than $25!!!

      To me, HMV and Virgin are just showrooms anyway. Great to browse round to see what's new to buy - then just go home and buy it for half the price on Amazon or eBay.

      I would dearly love someone to explain to me how these shops stay in b

  • by Y-Crate ( 540566 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:52PM (#14928959)
    The problem with a lot of CDs is that very often you get the CD and an often-crap set of liner notes that increasingly doesn't even give you the lyrics to the songs or any other form of added value.

    When U2 released their last album, they promoted the hell out of the iTunes version, and released a CD version complete with a snazzy cardboard case, bonus DVD and 48-page hard-bound book. A plain vanilla CD version with just the lyrics was also sent to stores (if you didn't want to pay the reasonable markup on the mini-boxed set). Everyone I know - even fellow iTunes store addicts - ended up hunting down the deluxe version. Even people that don't particularly like the band were transfixed by the whole package when they saw it. (Pics here [] and here []. )

    The band went into it knowing people would be tempted to download it for free, but never whined about it. Instead they offered a wide variety of choices and actually did something to make fans want to go out of their way to get the physical product - and the most expensive version of the release, at that.
  • as soon as Chuck decides he bought his last... it's all over.
  • I think all the on-line music stores using DRM, including iTunes, are a big rip-off; and the few on-line music stores that don't use DRM don't have the music I want.

    Physical CDs give me content I want without DRM, they provide proof that I own the music, and they provide a physical backup. If that weren't a music distribution model already, someone would have to invent it.

    For free music, I use podcasts; they deliver interesting and new stuff onto my machine every day.
  • Frontline did a cool piece about 2 years ago. They hit upon a number of things, one of which was CD sales.

    WatchOnline: c/view/ []

    The music industry has never really been a giant money maker. However, massive corporations bought into the industry during a weird peek time. Hip Hop and Rap were becoming popular and something completely new was being marketed. Moreover, many people were replacing their vinyl and cassettes.

    Now that has leveled off, and they're bitch
  • Cheap, plentiful players for a format that consumers are familiar with.

    If some label gets smart before CDs become totally supplanted by downloads, they can easily sell $5 CDs *without* any DRM crap. Then hype the convenience of a source of known quality you can rip and use any way you want.

    It makes me think of satellite vs cable. Cable sucks, but not having it drop out in heavy rain is a read convenience.

  • The CD would come roaring back to life if there was a "best of" version of each CD that contained the best 5 - 7 songs and the CD cost no more than $8.00. The problem is quantity versus quality. If a CD costs $10 - $17 bucks, 25% of the tracks are good, 25% are ok and the rest is crap it's just not worth it. I'd rather cherry pick the good stuff off of iTunes. I'd prefer to own a hard copy on a pressed CD for backup purposes, but I'm not just not willing to pay the difference if 50% of the music on the CD i
  • by tengu1sd ( 797240 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @08:25PM (#14929188)
    Mass market music is fading away. The days of the 50,000 watt AM station manufacturing hits still make corp-rat music market-teers drool. But in today's world more and more people are opting out of listening to "clearchannel inc" and The HitList(c). Independent artists can create their own recordings in the garage studio, establish web sites, host music downloads and replace the giant distributors. If you only sell 10,000 pressings you're not worth investing in to big music, on the other hand, 10,000 pressings for half a dozen albums is a tidy sum for a single artist. On other words, the long tail is stretching out as the lump in belly of the beast is digested.

    I buy more music now a days, although none of it from labels the RIAA ever made a dime from. I just got back from a music festival in Northern California and picked up a dozen albums on physical CDs. Many musicians now have their own web site and market on CDBaby []. Despite free downloads and live taping allowed, sales were brisk. I'm one the minority who believes MP3 sound is inadequate, so if I like it, I'll buy it. More so from an artist who runs his own label and will see something from the sale.

  • For a majority of the music I listen to (indie, neo-folk, college, etc...) Vinyl is by far a very viable and popular media. When I buy an LP I feel like I actually own something. The album art is in large format, record labels throw in extra tacks, bonus 7", etc... Most indie labels make great Vinyl releases as they realize this is a product for those who truly love the music embeded in that wax.

    A few labels (MERGE) are even beginning to allow you to download MP3s of the LP tracks the second you order-- allowing me to have both a high quality digital recording and the warm wax for my turntable.

    In the realm of these independent record labels and their fans, Vinyl is quickly becoming a dominant media-- many fans fighting tooth and nail for limited vinyl pressings and other special releases. Out of print Death Cab for Cutie lps, Sunny Day Realestate lps, and early original Modest Mouse pressing go for over $100 on ebay.
    • For a majority of the music I listen to (indie, neo-folk, college, etc...)

      Sorry, but I think the fact that you need to categorise what you listen to into such microscopic categories indicates that you're just promoting vinyl because it's a "cool" thing to do.

      Vinyl works as a medium if you spend an extortionate amount of money to spend on a hi-fi system and have even more money to spend on a storage vault for your vinyl albums that keeps them at a fixed air temperature and humidity. Anything else and the

  • CD-FLAC! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bguzz ( 728614 ) * on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @08:40PM (#14929282)
    I want CDs that, instead of Red Book audio, contain 24bit 96kHz FLAC tracks. And what about CD-Text? That could have been cool, but I don't know since I've never seen anybody actually use CD-Text. Keep me from having to use CDDB or key in all the track data. Then maybe they could include PNGs of the cover art...

    That would be way too good for customers, though. It'd probably never work. I mean, can you just think of the poor recording artists!
  • by patio11 ( 857072 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @08:47PM (#14929327)
    ... there were several billion dollars of CDs sold last year, and there will be several billion dollars of CDs sold next year. Even VHS, a format which is inferior in every possible way to DVD (a player for which can be had for less than the price of the media that plays on it), is still a multi-billion a year business. The wave of the future it ain't, but CDs will be a *viable, profitable business* for decades.
    • The Slashdot bubble is a huge impenetrable glass sphere carried on the shoulders of four elephants stood on the back of a monolithic space turtle.

      Repeat after me:




  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @08:54PM (#14929359) Homepage Journal
    Sure there is a market for CD's, with their covers, artwork fold out images, lyric sheets.. oh wait. that was vinyl.. nah, cds are worthless.
  • Back catalogues (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BovineSpirit ( 247170 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @09:00PM (#14929393) Homepage
    I've never seen this mentioned on Slashdot, but I think of it every time I see the 'CD sales are declining because of copyright infringement' meme repeated. CD sales are affected by a lot more than a few copyright infringers.
          When they first appeared we saw people rushing out and buying replacements for their old vinyl and tape albums. Then we saw the collectors boxsets, and now we get the desperate 'best-of' rehashes. Consumers have consumed and having replaced their old collections are mainly interested in buying new releases, and so the CD market has slowed down. What would be more interesting would be to see what has happened to sales of genuinely new releases(and a new Eagles compilation doesn't count).
  • by Phil Urich ( 841393 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @09:30PM (#14929528) Journal
    Hardly. Nowadays I often even buy vinyl. Hah!

    No, seriously now. For one, services like iTunes don't offer things losslessly; for two, they restrict my use of them too much for me to even bother (hell, I don't even have many convenient ways to play fuckin' .m4a files, much less DRMed ones . . . but my DAP plays ogg just fine, so I can take that anywhere with me no problem, and while it's too small of a flash drive to really hold FLAC comfortably it's a snap to drag-drop convert FLAC to ogg-vorbis for the run).

    Thirdly, packaging. I mean, let's be honest now, it's been possible forever now to transmit text electronically quite well, but books are far from gone. It's just extra nice, convenient and so forth to have an actual physical copy in posession. Which is actually why I often buy albums I like in Vinyl now; I can usually just download lossless versions for digital use on the side (which is often how I came to like the album enough to buy it), and if you're going to go for the physical packaging, why not go for the gusto? Now, vinyl isn't exactly the easiest to get albums or singles in, so it's not always an option and many people would rather have a CD instead, but the fact that even now there are stores that sell a large volume of actual records speaks to the desire people have to actually own a physical copy of something (and what's more physical than analog?).

    So no, I certainly don't think CDs are going away anytime soon. Yeah yeah, they'll decrease in prominence and sales, they might not even stay at the top of the food chain . . . but there's a long ways from that to complete oblivion as the title suggests (not that I'm sure the article claims such; in true slashdottian spirit I've avoided reading TFA).

    Furthermore, if you expand the definition of CDs a bit and go into other forms of physically sold disks, there's alot of room for the medium to evolve from here. As noted, there aren't any major services offering lossless audio (unless I've been misinformed?), meanwhile we have emerging media types like DVDA and the growing practice of either two-sided disks or just a CD and a DVD to give extra content like videos along with albums, so even in the mere digital product the physical disks retain certain advantages over the online services.

    Besides, if anything is going to fall to the power of the internet, I think that print newspapers will go before CDs. So maybe once/if that happens we can start thinking about perfoming the final rites for Compact Disks.
  • by zogger ( 617870 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @09:37PM (#14929561) Homepage Journal
    ...exactly parallels the huge increase in consumers having their own burners, then buying blanks by the small quantity. Then they hit the pre recorded rack and look at the titles and prices. Hmmmm. It ain't rocket surgery then.

      nConsumers found out how much they were being ripped off/gouged by a quarters worth of plastic and 10 cents worth of paper and revolted. Napster came about because people got *tired* of shelling out big bucks for music CDs.

    And to this day, the millionaires who have no coneption of what a dollar is worth to joe working stiff and who make the decisions on pricing for discs at the RIAA vendors are STILL clueless to this. To them, 10 to 20 bucks is like a nickle or a dime to regular people, they think it's cheap! They simply *don't* get it. They are incapable of relating because they are millionaires. They can intellectualize it all day long, they just won't understand it was the pricing that lead to "piracy" way more than just the ability to do so. In fact, the "ability to do so" has been driven precisely by outrageous pricing on music and movies.

    Those over priced bit sellers are their own worst enemies.

    And I don't want to hear it can't be done, you can walk into any walmart and see older movies on DVD for two dollars.

    And that's all bits on a disk are worth. Bit sellers need to get a clue back to the "volume sales" concept. At two bucks, they would sell a lot more disks, and make more money, even if the net per disk was lower.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @09:52PM (#14929647)
    You'll have to pry the 44 khz stream from my cold dead hands. Until I can be assured of DRM free master quality recordings, I'll never stop buying CDs.

Loan-department manager: "There isn't any fine print. At these interest rates, we don't need it."