Between The Headphones of the Publisher – January 2012


Happy 2012 everyone! If you’re reading this, the world hasn’t yet ended, but of course, some are saying that won’t happen until right before Christmas 2012. So just in case, do your shopping late this year.

However, if you want to give CDs as a present next year, you might do well to buy early.

It’s been alleged that whether or not we make it to the end of 2012, it looks like our little plastic friends won’t be joining us in 2013.

Rumor, internet lore, and some actually reliable media outlets are reporting that while not all CD production will stop, the major labels will cease producing your run of the mill, regular CD release. Limited edition discs with bonus material are alleged to be surviving.

Now we won’t know for some time whether or not these rumors are actually true, as no major label has actually made any official comments on these stories, and quite frankly, I’m torn as to whether or not the CD has run its course or not.

The part of me that has a whole wall of discs that I rarely, if ever listen to (because I already have them in more accessible — and automatically alphabetized —digital format) could care less if the CD survives. As a pragmatist, I realize that few CDs have any artwork that can’t be appreciated just as easily in the iTunes cover flow format. And, I realize that the ones that do have crazy cool packaging and true artwork will still be released as special editions.

But as a collector of music, a completest who doesn’t get an album just because of one song, I’m sad to see a tangible product like the CD disappear, and much more so, I wonder what the trickle down effect will be to retailers, and more importantly, the guys behind the counter at those retailers — that’s the real loss here, lest we forget.

Blame will be pointed in several directions including the labels themselves, the internet and illegal file sharing, but if folks are really looking for someone to blame, they should blame their kids, and the artists they listen to.

You see, pop music has always been the backbone of record sales, and even if you don’t like pop, it’s that share of the market that allows you to walk in to a brick and mortar store and walk out with a title from some obscure band from halfway around the world.

But kids brought up on the internet could care less about collecting tangible music these days. Yeah, some of them still buy CDs, but not nearly in the numbers they used to. Yeah, some of them illegally download or share their files, but that’s still not the nail on the head either. The real issue is that in their short attention span lives, and in their Google-warped minds, they know they can access what they want when they want, even if that means having to watch and listen to some crappy mobile phone video that’s as shaky as a meth head on a binge.

Studies have showed that kids don’t care about information they can find on the internet, that they don’t retain the information, but instead retain only the search terms needed to retrieve it.

So like the bumper sticker that urges you to “hug your kids at home, belt them in the car,” I suggest adding to that “and make them sit down and listen to music as they hold real product in their hands.” It’s the only hope for the future of physical media and for the guys behind the counter at our local stores.

See you at the shows.



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