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Wednesday, July 25

The Dying Disc

It's becoming increasingly obvious to me that the Cd as we know it is a dying format. It's a shame. In fact it is also a shame that the 12 inch vinyl album has pretty much become extinct too. The reason to mourn the loss of the 12 inch is down to the beauty of the item and the way its packaging allowed for artistry and photography you could really appreciate. Cd album artwork and booklets are pretty good too, but they must be on their way out.

I am, of course, speaking from my own point of view only. There may well be people out there who won't let the format die. What is slightly weird is that I have never, I repeat, never bought an album online in mp3 format or similar. There are various reasons for this. The main reasons are the inconvenience of DRM - digital rights management, which may as well come with a note saying 'your mp3 player won't play this file' and the fact that I can buy the same album for a similar price to its downloadable equivalent, and have it on Cd as proof that I have paid for the right to listen to it.

Yet I still feel the Cd is dead as we know it. To understand this you have to know how I use music. I have three places where I listen to music: car, desk and train. In the car there is a Cd player but I can play my mp3 player too. At my desk there is the backup of my mp3 collection, all of which comes from cd albums I have bought or been given over the years and have converted myself. Out and about there is my mp3 player. There is something like 1000 discs' worth of music on there. I cannot keep track of where all the actual discs are. Many are in my loft in Newcastle. As a result, I listen to tracks. So once I've shelved a Cd I've bought, it rarely goes into a machine. I keep a few random discs in my car for when the mp3 player is low on battery or elsewhere. There's also the radio.

Putting a disc in a machine is now a rare activity for me, except to convert it just after buying. Moreover, the kooky tracks at the end of albums, where there is a long silence in the middle of the track followed by an extra song, just seem annoying and pointless. I expect everything to be a track: an entity in its own right.

Having said that, the combination of my natural levels of ocd (figuratively, not clinically diagnosed) coupled with the hard to use controls on my player means that I seldom listen to a hand rolled playlist. I still listen to an album in order from start to finish. I just don't play with shiny discs so much anymore.


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