R.I.P. CDs

A recent article from The Lefsetz Letter site waxes foreboding about the CD's imminent demise and the inevitable restructuring of the music industry. Reading it induces a bit of schadenfreude in anyone who remembers when record companies introduced the format in the early '80s. Major-label moguls proclaimed that the CD would make us all eagerly dispose of our vinyl, as the smaller silvery disc promised "perfect sound forever." Turned out that forecast was awry, as CDs proved merely to offer "imperfect sound for a time quite a bit short of eternity."

Here's one particularly bracing prediction from the Lefsetz piece:

Best Buy and its brethren are going to kill the CD. They're gonna shrink floor space and titles and one day they're just going to stop selling discs completely. This will happen long before record labels desire to give up on the physical format. Retail is in tune with its customers' whims, it has to keep moving forward to survive. Soon CDs will be evidence of the past, and these stores want to be the future. Big box retailers will kill the CD the same way the industry killed the cassette and vinyl. They'll just stop stocking them, and the consumer will go elsewhere.

Oh well, formats come and go; no need to mourn too hard. Like vinyl has done over the last quarter century, CDs will serve a niche audience before going the way of the 8 track or entering a new incarnation as high-end coasters and/or coke mirrors. Meanwhile, millions of DJs will continue to spin vinyl as if it never received the music biz's death sentence. Wax has last laugh over aluminum—film at 11.


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