A few posts this weekend are circulating about the impending death of the CD.  Now, I've almost always purchased my music on CDs. There's no DRM, there's album art (well, tiny album art), the CD serves as your backup after you rip the tracks,  and a CD is as high fidelity as you can get.  But after this weekend, I think I agree, the death of the CD is imminent.  I went to the local shop to pick up the new Deerhoof CD - but it was not to be found - and outside of the dreaded Best Buy, the CD was probably not to be found in a 20 mile radius of my home. And so I finally decided to try out eMusic.  Now, I've always been reluctant to take eMusic  up on their free trial offer because you need to give them a credit card number - but it was the only way I was going to listen to Deerhoof - so I gave it a shot, and I'm glad I did.  For the price of a CD at the local bookstore, I can get 50 downloads per month from eMusic.  The downloads are non-DRM'd high-bit rate mp3s (VBR of at least 192K).   The lack of DRM means that I can put the tracks on my iPod (unlike Rhapsody and Napster).  eMusic keeps track of what music I've downloaded so I can  redownload any purchased track so I don't have to worry about losing my music when my disk dies.  The catalog is surprisingly deep. You won't find U2 or the Beatles, but it is a gold mine for indie music.  It's no surprise that  with its deep, long tail selection of DRM free, high quality music that eMusic is the second largest digital music store - and I think that eMusic, and offerings like it will be the future of music.  The CD is dead! Long live the CD.

There's another component to this: the demise of the album concept. Raised on vinyl, I got used to one song following another as the artist intended. As a modest recording artist myself, I put thought into the order in which songs should appear. CD technology began the pull away from this with random-play capabilities, but now digital acquisition of individual tunes allows users to create their own mix. True, this is the end of an era, but is it bad, good, both, neither? In any case, it's here to stay - until the next thing comes along. Indeed, the next thing could well be here: fragments of songs are sampled into "new" songs. Mostly this is still done in the studio, but technology will facilitate anyone being able to do this. Instead of creating mix albumns, we will be creating mix songs. What interesting times!

Posted by Gordon Peery on January 30, 2007 at 08:22 AM EST #

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