Monday, July 07, 2008

To CD or not to CD?

That is the question... I am starting to think about the possibility of doing some recording in 2009, and am wondering if the CD is starting to reach the end of it's useful time? Digital music is becoming much more popular every year, and at some point, will take over for Cd's entirely. I remember in 1999 when I put out my 'County Line Road' CD, I also made cassettes. Before that point, it had been necessary to have cassettes, but soon after, cassettes were totally obsolete, and I still have a box of 'County Line Road' cassettes.
I don't want to end up with a box of thousands of a new CD while everyone is busy downloading my music, and using my old CD's as frisbees, coasters, etc.
There are becoming more ways to distribute music digitally, ITunes being the most popular. There are also download cards, which I can sell at shows. And, of course, you can download songs or full albums straight off the homepage of my website.
But, on the other hand, some people still do enjoy having an actual CD, and there are still people who haven't joined the current century, and don't know how to download music, much less put it on an mp3 player.
If you have thoughts on the 'to CD or not to CD' question, please do share!


boyhowdy said...

A few thoughts:

First, as a music blogger, I share some of the responsibility for perpetuating the digital preference -- though I think liner notes and other materials are valuable, and though you CAN send those with digital download packages, I suspect these materials are totally ignored in digital form. As such, I do prefer "hard copy" for myself, even if I usually bump the music into the iPod and put the CD away after the liner notes and imagery have burned itself into my brain.

Cost and context both matter, too. Ten bucks for a full album download isn't much better than 14 for a CD, and the four extra is EASILY worth knowing that if something happens to my computer, I've still got your work. I work with computers, but most folks I know aren't any more confident than I am that their digital work is as secure or stable as plastic back-ups used to be.

Most importantly, though, I think musicians who tour heavily need CDs. If I'm going to be at a show and love your music, I'm going to want to go home with a copy of it in my hand, period. Maybe with an autograph. Even the most digital-savvy musicians out there still bring CDs to shows.

I don't think it's an either-of, though. John Prine, via this folkblog, has a point: making the less-produced, live stuff easily available online lets people listen to their hearts content, while whetting the appetite for the most carefully crafted end of the work on plastic.

My two cents, I guess. Plus, I note that those musicians who have released "digital only" work and asked to send it on to me have had "review copies" of actual plastic CDs available to send reviewers like me when I ask. If someone is going to press the plastic anyway, you might as well make it an option for listeners -- even if it's low-tech, as output goes.

Good luck calling it!


Cover Lay Down

Dave Humphrey said...

Over the years I have collected hundreds of CD's and record albums. I love the fact that I can go to my bookcase and find any one of them. I can read the liner notes while listening and retain that written history of the music. I can refer to it at any time. I'm probably old fashioned, but I don't want to give up my CD's. Last year I sent Dave's CD's to family and friends as gifts. Try that with digital music. You can always transfer the music onto your iPod and have the hard copy as a back up. I LOVE MY CD'S.

Thanks, Dave from Wellington, FL.

Wendy said...


I agree with the other two comments! We totally love our CD collection ~ wouldn't have it any other way! You make a CD, and I will buy it!! :) AND download from itunes. I will do BOTH! You should too! (And not because I've known you since you were in Kindergarten...I'll do it b/c I love your music!) :)

Josh said...

There is no clear answer for this right now. With regards to digital becoming the primary medium, we are right smack in the dispensation of "already, but not yet."

Seems to me like finding a compromise in lowering CD production costs would be ideal, but I realize the experience for the buyer (and pride of the artists in the tangible product?) would suffer.

I think the question is, when you're getting ready to do your next project after this one, will this even cross our minds?