The premature death of compact discs

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Story by Hunter Denkema, Reporter

Vinyl records gave way to the convenience of digital music, which gave way to the streaming age. Vinyl would later come back due to nostalgia and the sound quality of physical media. In history books, this is the story that you would see about the rise of music streaming. It is nice and succinct and matches perfectly with the proliferation of the internet in the 2000s.

However, this ignores physical-digital media.

Physical-digital media consists of physical objects which hold digital assets. For music, this mostly consists of CDs. I have always had a fascination with this era. I grew up in this era; I remember my parents listening to Chris Gaines, and even getting Kidz Bop albums in happy meals. And these days, this era is the one I look back to the most, collecting many of the CDs that interest me today and the ones I couldn’t afford as a child, owning over 500 at this point. I believe that as a combination of digital and physical media, CDs inherit both issues and benefits of its digital and physical platforms.

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From digital media, it gives the convenience that medium provides. I can put my CD into my computer disk drive, and download the songs to my laptop. These files can then be put onto my phone for me to listen or watch on the go. However, unlike the digital media it can be turned into, I don’t need a device like a computer to use my media. In case of an internet or power outage, I can still use my CDs in my Magnavox player powered by 4D batteries. Furthermore, I actually own the disks. When it comes to streaming, you pay for the subscription, but you don’t own the media. One of my favorite comedy albums, Sammy J and Randy’s First Comedy Album, was one day removed from Spotify. I had it downloaded to my phone, but I can’t listen to it anymore. But I can still listen to my copy of Pope Adrian 37th Psychiatric, which will never be on Spotify (for good reason, it is weird). And it is so much cheaper. Songs on iTunes are the same price that they have been for 15 years, while I can buy 20 used CDs for $30 or less.

The convenience of streaming has helped spread music to even more people, which is a good thing. However, physical-digital media will always hold a special place in my heart. Long live the CD.

Categories: Opinion, The Saint