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Thread: The compact disc turns 25. Is it's role in retail music about to end?

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    Just The Big Picture macro's Avatar
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    The compact disc turns 25. Is it's role in retail music about to end?

    Mike McConnell was discussing music downloads today on WLW, and he predicted that within ten years there will be no more prerecorded music CDs sold, and that everything will be downloaded. He went on to say that this would end the concept of "albums", since the loss of CDs would end the necessity of artists to come up with a collection of songs at one time. Instead, he says we would return to the days when arists only released singles - no "albums".

    I agree with McConnell, and to be honest, I'm surprised the pace has picked up even faster. It has been years since I bought a prerecorded CD, and I doubt that I ever will again.

    What about you? Do you buy discs or download exclusively?

    Here's an article that discusses the role of the CD (as a medium) on the 25th anniversary of its introduction. I recall subscribing to a magazine called Stereo Review in the early 80s, and articles about these things kept appearing, and I wondered what the big deal was. Once I heard my first one in 1984, I realized what the big deal was. Those who have never listened to music on vinyl or tapes don't realize the improvement digital recording and CDs have made in the quality of music.

    http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/58904.html

    From LPs to CDs: Last of the Line Turns 25

    By Katherine Noyes

    TechNewsWorld
    Part of the ECT News Network

    08/17/07 1:49 PM PT

    The CD turns 25 on Friday, and the milestone is certainly cause for celebration. More than 200 billion CDs have been sold since Aug. 17, 1982, the day when Royal Philips Electronics produced the first compact disc -- "The Visitors" by ABBA. Considering a third of U.S. households still have no Internet connection, it is expected that CDs will be used for a while to come.

    Twenty-five years ago Friday, the very first compact disc was produced by Royal Philips Electronics at a Philips factory in Langenhagen, Germany. It was Aug. 17, 1982, and the CD was "The Visitors" by ABBA.

    Fast forward to today, and it's hard to imagine life before CDs were around. At the same time, though, it's not entirely clear what the next 25 years will bring for the medium. More than 200 billion CDs have been sold since that momentous day, Philips says, and they're still used heavily throughout the world.

    Digital download aficionados like to proclaim that the end of the CD is near, but by many accounts, that may be premature. The technology will disappear eventually, sure -- but probably not anytime soon.

    Springboard for Innovation

    Philips and Sony partnered to develop the CD through a joint task force of engineers that began work in 1979.

    "When Philips teamed up with Sony to develop the CD, our first target was to win over the world for the CD," said Piet Kramer, who at the time was a member of the optical group at Philips that made a significant contribution to the CD technology.

    "We did this by collaborating openly to agree on a new standard," he explained. "For Philips, this open innovation was a new approach -- and it paid off. In the late '70s and early '80s, we never imagined that one day the computing and entertainment industries would also opt for the digital CD for storing the growing volume of data for computer programs and movies."

    Digital Revolution

    The invention of the CD ushered in a technological revolution in the music industry as the shift from analog to digital music technology began. The CD ultimately sparked further innovation in digital entertainment as well, such as DVD technology and Blu-ray optical media.

    "The compact disc has proven its significance in bringing the highest quality of music to consumers who wish to enjoy scratch free music," said Lucas Covers, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Philips Consumer Electronics. "The enormous success of the CD over the last 25 years has opened many new opportunities for consumers to make the most of their music at home and on the move."

    Indeed, the CD managed to displace both cassette and vinyl record albums "almost immediately because it offered three critical things," Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with JupiterResearch, told TechNewsWorld.

    Changing Everything

    First, with its jewelry-like appearance, high-quality sound and new features such as random access, the CD offered consumers the ability to see and hear the difference in the new technology immediately, Gartenberg noted.

    The technology also provided many incentives for the music hardware companies, which took advantage of the opportunity to sell new players. Finally, it provided similarly enticing incentives to the music companies, which jumped at the opportunity "to sell their existing content all over again on the new format," Gartenberg explained.

    The result: "New formats come along very rarely, but the CD changed everything," he said.

    Days Gone By

    Nevertheless, with the emergence of digital downloads and technologies like the iPod, many argue that the CD will soon be obsolete.

    "It's worth celebrating the development much like it's worth celebrating the birth of the original transistor, but I don't think there's a shadow of a doubt that the prerecorded CD will become a thing of the past," Phil Leigh, senior analyst with Inside Digital Media, told TechNewsWorld. "It has seen its best days."

    CDs will be phased out partially in the next 15 years, with their final obsolescence arriving in 30 years or so, Leigh predicted.

    Most observers agree the technology can't last forever, but not everyone believes it will disappear that quickly.

    Like Paper

    "The analogy I like to use is that CDs are like paper," John Barrett, director of research for Parks Associates, told TechNewsWorld. "When office automation began, everyone started talking about the promise of the paperless office, but that just hasn't happened."

    Consumers have a strong affinity for the medium, and will probably continue to use it even more than they do today, Barrett predicted. The difference will be in how the CDs are used -- "we'll burn our own, trade back and forth, make our own mixes," he explained. "We're still a long way from the digital ecosystem where everything is electronically zipped around the home, office, car and portable device," he added.

    While an increasing number of consumers will undoubtedly begin using digital downloads, there still remains the fact that close to a third of U.S. households still have no Internet connection, Barrett pointed out. "They'll be using CDs for a while to come."

    A Good Value

    Indeed, with their relatively low prices, lack of digital rights management (DRM) protection and quality surpassing that of a digital download, "we think the CD will be around for quite a while," agreed Gartenberg. "It's still a really good value for consumers."

    The technology may be particularly likely to linger in cars, many of which until recently were still produced with cassette players, Mark Fitzgerald, an analyst at Strategy Analytics, told TechNewsWorld.

    "There have been rumblings from some suppliers in the automotive world that want to get rid of CD drives in vehicles so they can use the space for something else, but auto makers want to keep them," Fitzgerald said. "The auto makers don't want to alienate anyone."

    End of the Line

    Such drives will probably remain in vehicles for at least another four to five years, Fitzgerald predicted. "Even though we have MP3, people are still burning CDs," he said. "They're still cheap and easy, and consumers still use CD players in many areas of their homes and cars."

    However long the technology lasts, the birth of the CD is particularly notable because the technology is probably the last physical media standard for music, Barrett noted.

    "There's no motivation or reason to come up with another physical media format, so the CD appears to be the end of the line," he concluded. "Happy birthday to the last of a generation."

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    The Lineups stink. KronoRed's Avatar
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    Re: The compact disc turns 25. Is it's role in retail music about to end?

    No more 17 dollar cd's for 1 or 2 songs but only 2 bucks for those 2 songs? no way the RIAA allows that money cow to go away without a fight to the death, and what about brick and mortar stores? not good for them either.

    Personally I'm download only and have been for awhile, when I purchased a new car stereo I made sure to get one with a USB port, now on long trips I can take a 2 gig jump drive that will last the entire trip plus and not 10 cd's that I have to change every 74 minutes.
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    Pagan/Asatru Ravenlord's Avatar
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    Re: The compact disc turns 25. Is it's role in retail music about to end?

    depends.

    I buy CDs, no questions asked, from artists i've love for years: Jon Oliva/Savatage, Megadeth, Slayer, Iced Earth and so on. even in the early days of downloding before Napster became a new issue. the reason, i support the artists, and i love having the CD artwork and linear notes.

    artsists i have less trust in, Dimmu Borgir, Extol, Danzig, Lords of Acid; i'll download 3-5 songs from an album. as long as at least 70% of the downloads i like, i'll go and buy the album. it's been great, i've avoided every Aerosmith album from Crazy onward.

    if i like the artist, i'll buy the CD...if it's Buckcherry i'll download three songs (or if i'm lucky, buy the LP) and leave the rest to rot. i'll also make a conserted effort to seem them live (Gigantour was pwonage).

    all that said, i agree with McConnel. CDs will be a thing of the past in the none-too-distant future, and i'll be give my |Dad |Strawberry Fields Forever for...i think the fifth time in his life .(Record, 8-Track, Cassette, another Cassette).
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    RZ Chamber of Commerce Unassisted's Avatar
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    Re: The compact disc turns 25. Is it's role in retail music about to end?

    Until vehicle manufacturers settle on a method to play digital music files on vehicle stereos, CDs will continue to have a market. At this point, I think you can count on 2 hands the number of vehicle models that have iPod docks as standard equipment and there are a variety of other solutions out there in the new vehicle marketplace.

    Was anyone else startled a few weeks back when 2 of the week's top 3 top-selling CDs were targeted at tweens? (High School Musical 2 soundtrack and Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana) To me, that was a watershed moment in the music industry and it makes this topic very legitimate.
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    Re: The compact disc turns 25. Is it's role in retail music about to end?

    Still strictly CDs here. I really hope that if things go all download, the concept of the album doesn't go by the wayside. There are still a few artists who can put together a good album that should be listened to in its entirety.

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    Re: The compact disc turns 25. Is it's role in retail music about to end?

    Quote Originally Posted by OldRightHander View Post
    I really hope that if things go all download, the concept of the album doesn't go by the wayside. There are still a few artists who can put together a good album that should be listened to in its entirety.
    Agreed - And it seems some albums should only be listened to as albums. It would be a shame to think there could be no more Sgt. Peppers or Tommy's.

    That said, I have not bought a CD in ages. Since Napster has gone legal, I have not bought a CD. I would actually be surprised if they last another 10 years. Once CDs hit the scene, the album went very quickly.

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    Re: The compact disc turns 25. Is it's role in retail music about to end?











    And the beat goes on.....

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    Re: The compact disc turns 25. Is it's role in retail music about to end?

    Quote Originally Posted by OldRightHander View Post
    Still strictly CDs here. I really hope that if things go all download, the concept of the album doesn't go by the wayside. There are still a few artists who can put together a good album that should be listened to in its entirety.
    Yeah, I still buy CDs, but then I'm older than dirt.
    If I like an artist well enough to pay money to listen to his/her/their music, then just a single song isn't enough. When I'm ready to listen to that artist, I want to listen to a string of songs. One thing I've always enjoyed doing is listening to a CD (or album) several times and picking out the songs that I really like, which often are not the ones released as singles.
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    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Re: The compact disc turns 25. Is it's role in retail music about to end?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsBaron View Post
    Yeah, I still buy CDs, but then I'm older than dirt.
    If I like an artist well enough to pay money to listen to his/her/their music, then just a single song isn't enough. When I'm ready to listen to that artist, I want to listen to a string of songs. One thing I've always enjoyed doing is listening to a CD (or album) several times and picking out the songs that I really like, which often are not the ones released as singles.
    I think that's what you risk losing - that gem of a song squirreled away on an album and would never know if you cherry picked the songs.

    I agree with those who note that there are some albums that just require hearing as an album. And that's an art that's going by the wayside. How many times have you heard a song on a different compilation and your brain prepares itself for the song that follows on the album. Talk about a short circuit!
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    Re: The compact disc turns 25. Is it's role in retail music about to end?

    Quote Originally Posted by macro View Post
    Mike McConnell was discussing music downloads today on WLW, and he predicted that within ten years there will be no more prerecorded music CDs sold, and that everything will be downloaded. He went on to say that this would end the concept of "albums", since the loss of CDs would end the necessity of artists to come up with a collection of songs at one time. Instead, he says we would return to the days when arists only released singles - no "albums".
    When did those days ever exist?
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    Just The Big Picture macro's Avatar
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    Re: The compact disc turns 25. Is it's role in retail music about to end?

    According to McConnell, in the 1950s and early 60s, rock artists only realeased an album after they had accumulated enough hits to warrant a greatest hits collection. Once these collections started selling well, the record companies and artists started selling collections of first-run material, and the rock album was born.

    This was before my day, and I had assumed that rock albums had been around since the birth of rock, but perhaps not. Wikipedia's page for Album says

    "From the dawn of the "album era" (in jazz, about 1954; in rock, about 1962) until about the mid-1960s, albums were often recorded as quickly as possible, sometimes in single sessions."
    Since that quote mentioned the speed of the recording process, and I'm getting off the subject here...

    I just finished watching The Beach Boys: An American Family on HDNet this week, and that movie seemed to imply that Brian Wilson was one of the first rock artists to stress over every finite detail of a recording, taking hours and hours to complete a single recording and months to complete an album. His/their "Pet Sounds" album (the one that took months) definitely took rock music to another level, and Paul McCartney once named it as one of his all-time favorites and the major inspiration for Sgt. Pepper's.

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    Re: The compact disc turns 25. Is it's role in retail music about to end?

    Quote Originally Posted by redsmetz View Post
    I think that's what you risk losing - that gem of a song squirreled away on an album and would never know if you cherry picked the songs.

    I agree with those who note that there are some albums that just require hearing as an album. And that's an art that's going by the wayside. How many times have you heard a song on a different compilation and your brain prepares itself for the song that follows on the album. Talk about a short circuit!
    I think its the exact opposite honestly. While its true that a song won't sneak onto a CD despite its lack of "marketability" the barrier for putting a song up for download is much lower. The record company may very well just keep throwing songs out to be downloaded as soon as they are finished in studio. It might make more sense to continuously throw a song out to keep the artist fresh in peoples minds.
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    Re: The compact disc turns 25. Is it's role in retail music about to end?

    I think that in ten years there will be things like Sirius on demand, or XM on demand. That way you can just listen to whatever song you want to listen to, whenever you want to.
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    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Re: The compact disc turns 25. Is it's role in retail music about to end?

    Quote Originally Posted by macro View Post
    According to McConnell, in the 1950s and early 60s, rock artists only realeased an album after they had accumulated enough hits to warrant a greatest hits collection. Once these collections started selling well, the record companies and artists started selling collections of first-run material, and the rock album was born.
    I like McConnell, but I think he doesn't know what he is talking about on this one.

    Record companies obviously didn't throw their money around, but if an artist/group had a hit, then they were quick to capitalize on the market and want an album out ASAP. They'd sign artists to contracts that stipulated a certain number of albums needed to released over a certain timespan (ex-a 6 yr/8 record deal). They didn't wait around for the hits to accumulate, and then release a greatest hits collection.
    "panic" only comes from having real expectations

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    Just The Big Picture macro's Avatar
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    Re: The compact disc turns 25. Is it's role in retail music about to end?

    Are you speaking of the years post-1962, though, GAC? The Wikipedia entry seems to back his assertion that rock albums only came to be in the early 60s. This is a new conversation for me, so I have no idea.


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