General Question

glial's avatar

How much longer will music be available on Compact Disc?

Asked by glial (3006points) July 26th, 2007

2 Years, 5 Years, 10 Years? Will there be a successor or will all music be downloaded via the Internet?

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20 Answers

Perchik's avatar

Following the trend of history, there will always be a sucessor.

Records gave way to (smaller records) to 8 tracks, to cassette tapes, to compact discs. Sony tried to release a "miniDisc" into existence but that came out right around the advent of the iPod so it failed miserably. I think digital music IS the way of the future since it's environmentally friendly (no more cds being thrown away) and it's cheaper for the music companies (no production of cds).

However, I don't have a clue about the timeframe. I imagine that even now, cds are being phased out. With iTunes selling so much music now, I can only imagine that normal cd sales are dropping (I would be interested in numbers on this). I would guess that onces cd sales drop below a certain point, record companies would stop producing cds.

I'd say by 2015 cds will be obsolete.

davidhimself's avatar

I think that in ten years we will probably see a change, a revolution in music storage. Cds will no longer be that common anymore

sndfreQ's avatar

unfortunately as long as there is a demographic who uses them esp. the generation preceding ours who thought tapes and LPs were 'it'. Also as long as optical media is around in the form factor as CDs/DVDs/Blu-Ray/HD-DVDs manufacturers will continue to make the consumer products downward compatible.
until that generation dies off the CD will continue to be around.

gooch's avatar

they will remain for a looooong time b/c they are so cheap to produce. They will not lead as a best downloads will

mirza's avatar

I think digital downloads will lead the way. At the Live Earth in NY, all the artists urged the fans to download music rather than buying cds because its good for the environment to do so

Perchik's avatar

@mirza that was urged in all the Live earth concerts worldwide.

I agree fully with that, but i'm of the iPod generation. (actually right now as I type I'm listening to mine).

sndfreq is exactly right abuot the older generation. I still don't know if that's enough to keep cds around though.

christos's avatar

I predict that within the near future (1-2 years) Steve jobs will colanorate with a big name in the music industry and create a new record label for iTunes in which u can only download music via iTunes. there will be no need for production costs of CDs and artwork since it will all be available via download. if I had to throw a name out there I would say jay-z. but hey what do I know!

bob's avatar

@christos: Nice try. The rumors about Jay-Z & Apple starting a record label has been around for a while now.

Companies have already introduced several disk formats which are intended to succeed the CD. The two prime contenders are SACD (Super-Audio CD) and DVD-A (DVD-Audio). A limited number of albums have been released on each; you need a special player to take advantage of either (although most SACDs will play in normal CD players). Both offer higher sound quality than traditional CDs.

But everyone above is correct: digital distribution will replace the CD and every other disk format. With luck the quality of the sound will increase, but higher sound quality hasn't been at the forefront of any successful new music formats in the past 40 years--convenience, not quality, is what made adopters give up records and switch to 8-tracks, tapes, CDs, and mp3s. Downloading music off the internet and putting it on any and all music devices of your choice is the obvious future of music distribution.

It is very difficult to imagine either of the new disk formats offering an advantage that would be meaningful enough to make those formats competitive against digital distribution in the mainstream. The record companies seem to agree: only a few mainstream artists have released albums on SACD and DVD-A; the majority of the releases are classical music intended for audiophiles.

How long will companies keep releasing CDs? Maybe 10-20 more years. Maybe longer. Companies still release cassette tapes.

carlosp's avatar

CDs will be around for as long as people are willing to buy them. While we all rely on our iPods for our personal use, I believe we’ll still need a physical medium for a while longer. And the progression in physical media isn’t quite as smooth as Perchik would have you believe. It wasn’t “Records gave way to (smaller records) to 8 tracks, to cassette tapes, to compact discs,” one right after the other. Record albums actually went the reverse, from smaller to larger. And 8-tracks didn’t replace records; they never made much headway in the market and were never universally adopted. Cassette tapes overlapped with records, 8-tracks, and CDs. In fact, they’re still being produced, and are still critical in some specialty markets—they’re still considered the most versatile, durable, economic recording material ever invented.

I suspect a similar thing will happen with CDs—music may be primarily distributed electronically but there will still be a market for blank CDs for sharing without being dependent on a specific playback device like an iPod.

suzannek's avatar

In response to sndfrg’s assertion that “we” just need to wait for ‘the generation preceding ours to die off”, I have to say two things:

1) I think I belong to the generation preceding yours. I’m 39 years old, owned vinyl records and 8-tracks as a kid, used a Walkman as a teenager, got my first CD player when I was 16, etc. I’ve used an iPod for six years. I have to say, I think the generation gap is quite a bit narrower—or maybe more fluid—than you assume here. Plenty of people who grew up with analog media use digital until it bleeds (while continuing to indulge our nostalgic affection for analog). Also, there seems to be a fairly large retro market for analog. The kids in my life are elbowing each other aside at thrift stores and garage sales to pick up “real” records and play them on their turntables. Which brings me to my second point…

2) I have a 15-year-old daughter; she and her friends are heavily wired, with iPods up one side and down the other. They still exchange music almost exclusively via hand-mixed CDs. I think this is because they can personalize a CD in ways that aren’t yet possible with digital media. The CD picks up where the mix-tape left off—a small, portable, emotional unit of musical sharing that crucially allows hand-written annotation directly on the surface of the media. People haven’t really changed all that much in a generation; the urge to mark a surface with a pen isn’t going away any time soon, and digital media generally does a terrible job emulating expressive annotation. We’ve been able to share playlists on dozens of websites (not just iTunes—also, Pandora, etc.), but playlist-sharing hasn’t replaced the mixed CD or gained much traction among teenagers.

I don’t think CDs will go away until thumb drives become cheap enough that you can give them away to friends as casually as you’d burn a CD now. And a thumb drive will still lack a surface for expression—a place to hand-write the songs you’re sharing, to annotate and personalize your musical gift. So really, I think we’ll need to wait until rich digital devices are small, cheap, ubiquitously wired, and durable enough to be hurled around in a backpack, and until the software that runs on those devices supports annotation that is as expressive as a kid with a pen.

artemisdivine's avatar

hard media CDs for music (not copied/downloaded) are my fave. i love the booklets, the cases all of it. i have never gone online yet. i am super uncool. i cried when the cd stores up here started reducing their stock. the stores have been gutted. it is a huge shame.

Within 5 years, the sale of physical CDs and DVDs will look hopelessly old-fashioned. It will all be online.

January 19, 2001 (lol i love old links – talk of napster)
Experts Say Compact Discs May Become Extinct Due to New Technology
In spite of record CD sales last year, the venerable compact disc could begin a slide into audio obscurity in the next three to five years, some experts say

March 28, 2004
Compact discs, the dominant form of recorded music today, may be extinct within the next few years—or they may continue to appeal to some percentage (know one knows the exact number) of (probably older) music buyers, while young listeners turn exclusively to downloaded music files.

Are CD’s becoming extinct? CD sales for this year have declined 14.2 percent as of Oct. 24, according to Nielsen Soundscan Ratings

I think it is far too premature to write-off the CD as extinct. True enough, mainstream consumers seem more interested (at the moment) in the convenience and portability of music in digital file formats, but there are signs that this may not hold long-term–2007-funny-obituary-291113/index2.html

nayeight's avatar

My dad owns probably about 1700 cd’s and a couple hundred vinyl records that he’s not getting rid of. He still buys stacks of cd’s and he’s almost 50. His problem? First of all, who has the time, energy, and memory to transfer 1500 cd’s onto a computer or ipod or whatever? Then even if he did transfer all those cd’s he still uses a home stereo system. When he comes home if he feels like listening to some steeley dan or whatever all he has to do with a cd is find it, pop it in, and play it through the whole house. I guess for him an alot of other baby boomers that seems alot easier than sorting through all your artists on a tiny ipod screen, and then plugging it into your stereo system. He was considerting buying the Bose stereo that can record a cd when you play it but it didn’t have alot of memory and he would either have to pick which cd’s he wanted it to record or buy 5 of them or something. My dad also brought up another point to me, while downloading music is faster and easier, iTunes only has a select collection of iTunes plus songs and most of his cds are DRM. I think that my generation (I’m 21) doesn’t really care so much about the actually quality of the song as long as u can hear it but older generations do.

zaid's avatar

CDs will only be around as long as record companies and cd player manufactures make money off of them. Whether people buy them is not quite the issue, it’s whether enough people buy them

wilhel1812's avatar

They still make vinyls and cassettes, so i guess they’ll be there for a lot of more years

ArchaicLion's avatar

Most artists add filler songs to a few good tracks in order to make an album of 13± songs. Online companies develop allowing people to purchase the songs they want for the price of the song, not the price of an album. It may be very difficult to produce an album full of great music but the lack created the market. CDs won’t vanish all together (as everyone has already pointed out) but they will be replaced. The other major factor to consider is future encoding methods that may or may not be related to what currently exists. We might have our 3mb containers drop down to kbs making the physical requirements of future media much more simple. I can imagine kids with pockets full of coin-sized flash drive successors, passing their mix-tapes along.

CMaz's avatar

I stil have a Laserdisc player. It is sweet!
Prefe it to DVD’s, too bad the last laserdisks were made in 2002.

Zen_Again's avatar

Another year, maybe two.

Tenpinmaster's avatar

I think CDs wil be around for a long time because we haven’t exhausted their capabilities. We are still researching and utilizing new ways to read and record information to the disk surface. Most recent developments to CDs are Holographic Versatile Disk. Neat stuff!

everycritic's avatar

Well, here we are in 2011 and CDs still have the majority of the market, albeit a shrinking one. (Funny how so many people are still willing to be “hopelessly outdated”.) What happened last year? Digital sales SLOWED, prompting some to speculate that the download market has already matured. (Perhaps making it the 8-track tape of the 21st Century?)

What seems to be on the rise with teenagers whose parents still have jobs is subscription streaming. Pay-per-use scares the heck out of me because more and more people seem to be blissfully happy about giving up all ownership rights to the entertainment they’ve paid good money for.

The problem I have with these discussion threads is how narrow-minded the arguments are. They so often assume the entire populace is young and middle-income or above. Physical media gone in 5 years? Really? And how do you propose 85 year olds with cognition impairment and fixed incomes navigate around subscription sites or iTunes? How about the very young or the developmentally challenged? These folks can still press-and-play and they do have collections of favorite music/movies they enjoy. But I guess in a world ruled by youth and money, we’re not supposed to take those folks into consideration.

As for me, I’ve been in and out of employment for 3 years and I do not have the cash to lay out on pay-per-use. I DO have access to electricity, my player and my beloved disc collection however. And those movies/albums have given my enormous solace.

Permanency (or as permanent as anything can get these days) is occasionally a valuable thing.

diskee's avatar

I like the attitude of your post. So many people want to be first they’ll post any gibberish instead of actually thinking. I’m 53 and have been unemployed for two years. I wouldn’t pay for streaming if I had a 100K per year job. Being trendy is the modus operandi of the moment and is the cause of a lot of the crap we all have to wallow through to find real value. Actually that has been the case since I was kid come to think of it. The poster that said the important thing was being able to hear the music not the quality of the playback pretty much sums up my feelings about today’s pop music. It’s bad so why worry about the quality of the playback?

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