Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
By Michelle Chavez, Staff Writer
Digital sales for albums and songs made exploring and discovering new music much simpler, more efficient, and perhaps even more cost effective than buying physical CDs.
The shift to digital streaming and purchasing is soon going to be included in the Billboard charts, making it even more easier than ever to see how popular a song is, even if that song doesn’t have a physical CD.
I know I’ve encountered many bands online that have an album for purchase, but only in a digital format. Even though I want to support the artist or band, I just can’t bring myself to buy the album digitally.
For me, buying the physical album has even more meaning now than it did before streaming services and YouTube.
If I want to listen to a song and I have access to the internet, I can just pull up YouTube to play the song. If the official Vivo didn’t have the song, there are plenty of fans who upload their copy for others to listen to.
Of course, it isn’t as helpful on mobile, but there are still songs that are uploaded that can be viewed while on mobile. Why should I waste space on my phone or music player if I can get this song anytime, especially when I have free data or can connect to Wi-Fi.
There is a huge difference between owning a digital copy and owning a physical copy for me.
The only way that the CD would be harmed in any way is if it’s crushed or left behind. Digital files can be wiped out from a variety of causes, either physical or via software. Of course, a physical copy can be made, but the appearance will not be the same as the packaging from the official CD.
When I have a physical copy of the album, it feels more personal, like I actually own it. With the digital copy, it has a distance. When I look at the digital copy, I just see the file title. The CD on the other hand, has all sorts of artwork and designs that support the emotion and vision of the album or single.
When I go to signings, the CD becomes even more valuable to me. I can get the CD signed by the very people who poured their heart and soul into creating the album. Every time that I use that album, I can see their signatures and realize how special and important this album is. Not so with the digital file.
Unfortunately, CD sales are dropping, with most bands starting to move to only digital files, especially new unsigned bands and indie artists. There is a whole culture that’s slowly moving away from physical copies of the album.
Yet, I think that the CD might make a comeback, especially if the vinyl record is any indication of the special relationship that fans have with their copies. Despite all the changes in how music is presented to the fans, from records to cassette tape to CDs, records still sell. Some artists release special vinyl albums to fans.
Perhaps it’s this limited access that makes the vinyl copy so special and desired. Maybe it’s the experience of listening to music with a record player. Either way, there is an experience to be had with these mediums that cannot be emulated by any other medium.
It’s that experience that pushes me to buy CDs over digital copies. There is nothing better than receiving a CD on my birthday or Christmas, rather than a gift card to an online music store. After looking at the artwork and the lyric book, just to sit back and listen to the album play; it just can’t compare to getting it online.
It may be less convenient and harder for me to find new bands and artists to support, but digital copies just can’t replace the intimacy or the experience of owning a CD.
If you haven’t had the experience, consider trying it out. Pick up a CD from your favorite artist, dust off the old CD player you had from middle school, and just plug into the experience. Maybe you’ll find yourself a fan.