There was an ongoing debate about the merits of CD sound vs. vinyl over at a Tangerine Dream mailing list. There were valid points on both sides, but no one seemed to bring up the elephant in the room: does CD even have any life-span left?
So I fashioned this response, partly to squeeze in my predictions about CD’s future, partly to give my take on why vinyl might be here to stay, and partly to respond to the idea people liked of including a CD copy of an album with the vinyl so the consumer can get the best of both worlds:
CDs are quickly becoming irrelevant as the digital era moves ever closer to figuring itself out. In our case, the next CD we release (scheduled for April or May) might possibly be the last. Future releases will likely be digital and vinyl with download codes included. (We will be releasing vinyl with download codes this year, as well as CDs.) At this point, CDs are mostly useful as musical business cards and handy merch at live shows. Throwing a CD in with the record is a waste of a manufacturing investment.
The slow media movement is gaining popularity right now, as people increasingly appreciate the tactile experience of playing a record—few of them are motivated by the fidelity argument—but they also want a quick and easy way to store and listen to music. The #1 reason people purchase CDs is to listen to it in their vehicle, but as more and more cars adopt ways to play digitally from a device (or otherwise), that reason will be going away.
Most consumers do not understand there’s a loss in quality from ripping/downloading music as low quality MP3s, so they will notice the difference when they listen to the same album on vinyl in comparison. Also, they appreciate album art on a whole new level with vinyl, so don’t be surprised if there’s a return to more iconic artwork on album covers as a result.
My two cents, at least.
Please continue reading the comments for some additional thoughts!
(Just a fraction of my vinyl TD collection shown above)