To get the lowdown on our resident blogger’s view on downloads read on…and catch up on Self Made Man’s unique take on the rock world right here every week.
It’s a battle that appears to be all but over. And those of us who belong to a certain generation are losing it.
Even 12 months ago, I still believed CDs would survive in their current format despite the proliferation of downloads and free music. Now, I don’t think so and it was a recent visit to my local HMV store which convinced me the decline is terminal.
Back in 2008 I had a rant about Windows, a well-known music shop in Newcastle, which, I moaned, was losing its soul. The space, on the lower ground floor, once allocated to rock and pop CDs was now filled by musical instruments and the new home for such albums was squeezed into a space upstairs which it shared with music of all genres, including classical, folk and soundtrack.
I once complained to an assistant who hardly knew her Leds from her Floyds and her Pinks from her Zeppelins but there was no point. This was the new age.
Downsizing was the new economic reality brought on my listening trends not dictated by you and I but by the generation behind us, those that say that anyone who pays hard-earned cash for their music is plain stupid and who regard a CD as an unnecessary space filler.
Windows, I hear, is flourishing today. It saw the future and leapt into it. Me? I’ve been led kicking and screaming into it and even now, still embrace the nostalgic past through habit, fondness and a modicum of reasoning.
And so to HMV, once an Aladdin’s cave of CDs, now another store for whom survival means diversification and the marginalisation of the disc. Every time I enter the shop, the shelves storing CDs, at least those not in the current charts (and don’t get me going about album charts!) seem another metre or two away from the entrance with DVDs, books and, especially, MP3 equipment and accessories, dominating the earlier aisles.
Who am I to argue? For taking a glance around the place, something struck me. Of the 15 or so fellow customers I noticed perusing the shelves, most were of a similar age to me. Two or three students apart, the rest were 40-somethings and above, clinging to the CD tradition.
My eldest son recently upgraded his iPhone and began the process of downloading music. His entire collection was imported from a non-CD source. Son No. 2 is virtually the same. Unless I have a CD he wants to burn (is that the correct term?), he’ll head to one of those mysterious music sites which offer free music.
And yet, and yet. That physical act of buying a CD remains a joy. And for those of us who still buy them, there are some amazing bargains to be had. I bought four CDs the other day for the princely sum of £22 and that included Noel Gallagher’s debut solo album which cost £9.99. Logic says I’m stupid.
After all, as I’ve told you before, I’ve run out of storage space in the house and my first act on returning home was to put the four albums into my iTunes library. Probably the only time I’ll pick them up again is to listen to the CDs in my car.
But there’s something wonderful about opening up that box, examining the sleeves, turning each page, studying the lyrics and reading those additonal notes. The CD may be dead. But long live the CD.