I Bought a CD Yesterday

by William Grosso

Related link: http://www.alligator.com/artists/bio.cfm?ArtistID=031

It's become a holiday tradition. A big meal on New Year's Eve (no parties anymore; they became brunches on New Years Day instead a few years back) and then, approximately a week later, gimlets at Mark Hummel's Blues Harmonica Blowout (where he brings in 5 or 6 legends to play 3 or 4 songs each).

Last night, Cephas and Wiggins played. I'd never heard of them before, never heard anything by them before. And I liked them so much that I went into the lobby and bought a CD (something I rarely do at concerts, simply because after you buy the CD you have to carry it around and that can get annoying).

And it got me to wondering. Somehow, I no longer buy CDs. I don't download music either (arguments like those propounded by Aaron Schwartz strike me as hopelessly sad and juvenile). Somehow, I've just completely gotten out of the habit of acquiring recorded music. And the more I think about it, the more it seems that the reason is simple: buying music has become a political act. I don't mind the monetary price of a CD (it seems high, but not out of line with other things I sometimes buy). I just don't want to do business with the music industry.

This isn't breaking news or anything; we've all known for years that the music industry has some moral and ethical challenges in front of it.

What's intriguing to me is how I made the decision. I don't recall making a decision to stop buying CDs. Let alone anguishing over it. And I can't remember the last time I even thought about buying a CD.

I just, quietly, in the back of my brain, made a decision to drop a long-standing habit when the moral overhead got too high.

At the concert, I knew who would get the money, and I knew it was a good deal for both of us. And, since I was wearing my coat with the really big pockets that can easily fit a CD, it was a no-brainer.

Do you still buy CDs?


2004-01-10 18:38:51
I am buying again
Definitely agree. I enjoy immensely the act of giving money to a local artist who has cut their own cd. In addition... Recent acquisition of a mp3 player has reinvigorated my interest in purchasing music. With the factured nature of the music industry it has been extremely difficult to overcome the energy barrier to buying new music. Now, with the ability to access my complete music library at any moment...new music has become interesting again.
2004-01-12 03:40:37
Selective outage
I still buy lots of music, but the copy protection stuff was a bridge too far for me. Pretty much all EMI stuff has copy protection on it that prevents me from just listening to it on my PC, except as lower quality audio, so I will /never/ buy anything from them again. (EMI is just one example of this braindead policy)

I cant even begin to describe how much this annoys me. I work in front of a PC for 8-10 hours a day, whereas I'm only home with my audio system a fraction of that time; hence my computer is my primary CD player. And they've screwed it up.

I can only hope that CD component vendors fix the bugs that allow these protection schemes to exist, and that consumer pressure mounts from people, like me, who listen to music primarily on computers.

2004-01-12 06:34:53
Selective outage
No chance, they'll just classify the dip in their revenues due to lost sales to people like you to 'sales reductions due to illegal file sharing'.

Simon Hibbs

2004-01-12 07:29:45
One (?) word: furthurnet.net
If you've got a proverbially ph4t net link, you're doing yourself a disservice by not downloading Furthurnet (furthurnet.net). There you'll find a p2p network of legally downloaded shows from bands that allow taping and trading. Lots of great stuff, and a lot more big names than simply the ones you'd expect (ie, hardly just Phish & The Dead).

Take a look. It's not all great stuff, but why not have it in the background hunting up great, free, guilt-free tunes while you're hacking away? And while you're at it, contribute to the open source app!

2004-01-12 09:07:56
Cephas and Wiggins
I took an upper-level english course (American Folksong) at umd in the mid-eighties. The class started out with
some real hard to listen to American Folksongs (the
class quickly lost students). Once we passed the mid-point,
Prof. Pearson quickly slipped into his specialty - Piedmont Blues. The hightlight of the semester was when Cephas and Wiggins came in for a set ... fantastic - small classroom ... fifteen student by this
time (down from 40 when the semester started). I'll never forget it.
2004-01-12 09:36:44
Too Much Thinking
I wonder if you are actually over-intellectualizing a lessening interest in music? Thanks to the net, there are plenty of options (like CDBaby) for buying indie music, so I don't buy the "CD as political statement" argument. It just might be a sign of slipping into Old Fogie-dom ;-).

P.S. I'm a 41-year-old-fogie who still buys way too many CDs.

2004-01-12 19:29:07
Don't think so
I dunno. I do listen to launchcast (came with the DSL) and the radio a fair amount. And I go to concerts quite often.

The only thing that's changed is: I don't buy CDs.

On the other hand, what the hell. If you'd called it "another sign of aging gracefully," I might have been more receptive to your argument :-)

2004-01-12 22:28:24
Price points keep me buying CDs
Well I've got 3 kids under 3 so I never get the satisfaction of giving money to artists directly at concerts anymore. I do find the price of CDs unrealisticly high compared to say DVDs. Can a music CD that can be produced with prosumer hardware cost as much to make as Pirates of the Caribbean (even when actors in films get more of the proceeds than musicians)? Where is my cost benefit for supplying the infrastructure to download legally?

I still feel trapped into buying CDs though. I like electronic music, preferrably DJ mixed. These CDs sell for $15-$20 usually in dual packs and typiclly have 12-20 songs per disc. So the current net pricing model is not favorable to me on an album or per song basis. Downloading (legal or not) is not really an option either as my tastes run a little obscure. so trapped... for now.

2004-01-13 16:13:15
Don't think so
I'm pretty bad with euphemisms ;-).