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I was involved in a rather passionate discussion today about the fate of the CD. So, here's the question: when you buy music or software these days, do you prefer buying it on CD/DVD, or do you go the download route and burn to your own media? The running bet is that the "oldskys" (not my term) are still buying physcial media while young whippersnappers like me (at 34), are all-digital. Or is it a little of each?

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My husband and I were talking about this the other day. I remember when I thought the CD was the ultimate storage format; maybe it would get smaller, but it couldn't get more simple. Then came the iPod.

We do both. We download single songs from iTunes (and AllofMP3 when we still could). But we buy collections albums (Beatles, Eric Clapton, etc.) in CD format. My husband has an iPod and plays it through his car stereo; I still use CD's in my car, which means I have to burn any downloaded songs. I think we'll all eventually have iPod-type capabilities, even though the quality of CD's is better.
We do both also, but mostly we buy CDs and rip them to MP3s for our Creative players (down with iPod, lol!). I'm an album-oriented person, so I'm not much interested in downloading individual songs. Even though it is possible to download entire albums, I'd still rather buy the actual CD to get the album art, even if it costs more (which it usually doesn't). But that's just me, and I'm a (relative) youngster at 36. :-)
I rarely part with money to buy a CD, but I don't pay to download much either. I tend to subscribe to podcasts rather than listen to broadcast radio. For those times I listen to music (my work headphones are half-dead), I listen to internet radio.

I've got an iPod and use it either for trying out stuff I've made or listening to podcasts when I go for a walk.

However I love physical media too, I am a devoted listener of Books on CD. I listen to them in my truck on my way to and from work. I might be tempted to forgo those once I can be bothered to get my iPod to talk to my truck's CD player. But I've not bothered yet.
I don't really buy CD's anymore. Everything that I have done lately has been primarily MP3. In fact, I just recently added the entire liturgical year of chant propers (and ordinaries) from the Bellarmina Schola to my ipod.
At 38, I am relatively an "oldster" -- Hey, I'm still collecting vinyl and converting them to digital in my home studio.

Now for my "snobby" opinion:

Perhaps it is because I am a musicologist/musician who spends an awful lot of time in the studio, but I have to state that Good clean Vinyl or Analog tape is still the best recorded medium.

Digital media such as CDs with a very high sample rate are my next favorite for convenience (both in listening and editing) but it really lacks the natural warmth one gets with analog.

mp3s are even more convenient but the sound quality is "yuch!" - I'd rather memorize the music and play it back in my head.

Although my biggest frustration with the whole iPod and iTunes thing is that the customer doesn't get the liner notes explaining the recording, any of the cool posters and stickers that come with the vinyl etc.
It is really fun to listen to the album and enjoy it thoroughly by reading through the session recording notes on the album and looking at the pictures...

As historical artifacts, the media source poses some interesting issues especially when reissuing an old vinyl recording in CD or iTunes format

In vinyl there exists the concept of A side and B side. The listener puts on Side A, sits down listens for 20-28 minutes catches a breather, comes back and starts the cool side (i.e. Side B).
When albums such as Sgt. Pepper where converted to CD, the new generation lost this whole "break" concept. Side A ends with Mr. Kite... after a break one comes back and begins "Act II" with Within You, Without You. -
The immediate succession of these two works on the CD format seems a bit "unnatural".

Then of course for iTunes customers, they'd probably ignore both of those tunes all together and download only ones that entertain them...

Oh well, Now I'm just sounding old and jaded.

Sincerely,
K. Christian McGuire
kmcguire@bitstream.net
www.myspace.com/christianmcguire

Music History, Electric Bass, & Combo Ensembles
Augsburg College
Music Department
2211 Riverside Avenue
Mpls MN 55454
mcguire@augsburg.edu
http://www.augsburg.edu/music/

Instructor of Music History
McNally Smith College of Music
19 Exchange Street East
Saint Paul, MN 55101
651 291 0177
800 594 9500
cmcguire@mcnallysmith.edu
http://www.mcnallysmith.edu/academics/faculty/composition.aspx

Musicologist & Webmaster for the
Minnesota Music Listening Contest
http://www.musiclisteningcontest.org/h_kcmcguire2004.html
I use both, my room is full of CD's, but a lot of them have Linux OS's burnt onto them, utilities for fixing my PC when it becomes broken, some Data backups, but I can get all my music on one DVD nowadays.
The CD/DVD/Blu-Ray probably won't die out for awhile. We already have Blu-ray discs that can hold over 50GB of data on them, and the only real use we have for them is data and high-definition video. Now music is probably going to be mostly online, there is not much point to buying them in CD's except for the value of having it, kind of like getting the large hardcover book over the cheap paperback.
But we are seeing a massive change from physical media to virtual, already numerous betas and testing websites are out there for the "online desktop" where you can log in, browse, and upload files just as you would on a normal desktop, sometimes I wonder if a hard drive is really going to be around in 10 or 20 years. CD's and DVD's and Blu-rays and whatever lies beyond that are probably going to stay around. People just find solace in knowing that their data is save on a CD.
But an interesting side note from one who grew up in this age: I can still find sheer amazement in even the most outdated things.
I think about music, I can always set up a FTP server or something and use a program on my flash drive to listen to my music at any PC.
I can upload it to my MP3 player and listen to it anywhere.
I can burn it on a CD and listen to it in my car, (but who does that anymore?)
But I still remember when I started to listen to the radio for the first time in my car. I never really listened to the radio, but one day I forgot my mp3 player and the fm transmitter, and just found a station I liked.
And I'm driving around, I really like this station, I record the channel for it.
I go home, go downstairs, pull out the old radio we had (it still uses D batteries, do they still make those?)
Turned it to the channel, and listened to that when I did my homework.
I took my MP3 player (Creative Zen V Plus, has a radio feature) and listened to it outside while walking my dog.
I decided, instead of setting my mp3 player's alarm function to wake me up to my music, I will set my clock-radio to wake me up.
I woke up the next morning, looked at my clock/radio and said "Woah, it's like free, super long range wi-fi!"
Not even the internet can stream music to my car, not unless I want to pay for 3G or something on a cell phone.
Just an interesting story.
For me it is still primarily an issue of audio quality which mp3s still have a long way to go.

Oh well.

K.ChristianMcGuire
http://www.myspace.com/christianmcguire
"I Still have a working Commodore 64 and I'm not afraid to Use it!"
I am a CD guy, but then copy to my iPod. In fact, I recently bought some CDs from Amazon that I had had on tape or vinyl years ago. Gene Hackman in the movie Crimson Tide quipped while smoking a cigar, "I don't trust air that I can't see." I guess the same is true with me and music. I want something I can hold in my hands.

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