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CDs not cool?

by berbar / October 22, 2007 7:20 AM PDT

Maybe I?m too old now (28), but for some reason, I still like buying complete albums on CDs.

Although I use playlists on my iPod, I still enjoy listening to albums back-to-back. When I used my shuffle (sorry Tom and Molly, I do think is cool), I used to load it with albums in full.

That?s the way I grew up listening to music, and that?s the way I felt in love with it. I also believe that?s why many rock bands (and other artists) created great ALBUMS during the last four decades of the 1900s.

That makes good artists. They put their work and effort in the whole album, not only two or three ?hit? songs and that?s it.

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Why it's worth purchasing CDs or Flash Drives vs dl'ing MP3s
by commorancy / October 22, 2007 10:23 AM PDT
In reply to: CDs not cool?

I personally still buy CDs primarily for resale value. If you want to resell your CD collection, each CD retains some sort of value to a collector. Unfortunately, downloaded MP3s don't have any value. You can't resell them as it would be considered copyright infringement if you do.

Traditionally, when consumers purchase something, that something retains at least resale value. In a digital world, digital downloads have no value due to download/transfer restrictions. Because you're purchasing digital content and because of the terms of that content, there's no way to know which original download was the original file you purchased. Even then, it can be argued that it was a 'copy' instead of the 'original' leaving you legally vulnerable. Also, because most digital retailers fire-and-forget your download, there's nothing to transfer to a would-be buyer at the retailer's site. So, you're stuck with a 'worthless' collection of MP3s. Sure, you can listen to them, but if you tire of them, you can't resell them to your friend.

Digital non-DRM for-pay downloads effectively eliminate the used market for music. So, unlike today, you won't be able to walk into a store and purchase used music. Of course, that might make some artists happy.

With CDs, you can still sell the case, printed materials and the CD itself. You have a physical and tangible media that can be resold. Even DRMed music with licenses may allow you to transfer the licenses to another individual also allowing resale of specific songs or the whole collection. Even music sold on flash drives would retian value over downloaded music. With a flash drive, you can still resell the physical drive containing the original music content.

So, even though non DRM downloaded MP3 music works for portability of the music, it doesn't work for resale or retain any value. Until the MP3 music sellers can work out a way to allow this purchased content to be sold as used, I'll stick with physical media deliveries. After all, reselling purchased goods has always been the right of a consumer.

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(NT) Thats the reason I stick with CDs!!! Digital music sucks.
by stevent1992 / October 28, 2007 7:58 AM PDT
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I rarely buy cds
by ktreb / October 22, 2007 10:53 AM PDT
In reply to: CDs not cool?

Because most of the stuff out there is disposeable crap. One to three really good songs, and the rest crap. Hardly worth buying the entire cd. And the few really good songs I'll forget about in a few years anyway. I will still buy the occasional cd from my all-time favorite artists that I've been following for 10-20 years. And I'll give new artists a chance if I can get a listen to their entire cd.

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Agreed, to a degree
by commorancy / October 22, 2007 11:27 AM PDT
In reply to: I rarely buy cds

The 'net is a great place to listen before buying. Still, for the value I prefer to buy physical media. With media, I can at least sell off the collection later when I outgrow the music. The thought of purchased disposable music makes purchasing MP3s quite unattractive. I can usually tell if I'm going to like a song even with only a small sampling of the music. So, I really don't even need to hear the entire track. But, for me, purchasing a CD is still the better deal in more ways than resale value.

For example, most MP3s are encoded around 256k. That encoding still doesn't compare to full uncompressed 16 bit audio on a CD. But, for most people, 256k may be enough. I just feel cheated if I pay 99 cents for a track (equates to $15 for 15 tracks). This then ends up the same price as most CDs that are uncompressed. In fact, most CDs are cheaper (13-14). To me, purchasing a 256k bit track, which is far less quality than a CD track, isn't worth the same price as a full uncompressed 16 bit CD. If I could buy uncompressed .WAV files for 99 cents a track, then I might be more inclined to purchase online.

If you plan to purchase one track, then 99 cents is a great deal. To purchase the entire album is really more expensive than a CD. Especially if you consider a used CD can go for as little as $5.99 (or less) ... and yes, I buy many of my CDs used.

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The CD is not cool (or even uncool)
by minimalist / October 23, 2007 12:19 AM PDT
In reply to: CDs not cool?

Um, 28 is not exactly old :-P But I understand your sentiment. I too generally buy whole albums because I want to hear a complete thought from the artist. Then again rarely does anything I buy break into the top 40 (or even the top 100). These are not hit-making artists being heavily promoted by a fickle record industry to milk their 15 minutes of fame for all its worth.

However, I rarely buy physcal cd's anymore because of convenience and the lack of any decent record stores in my area. I'd rather buy complete albums from independent online stores like Othermusic, Bleep, Boomkat or from larger stores like eMusic, Amazon, or iTunes.

The CD is not really cool or uncool. It just seems slightly unneccessary these days. I so much prefer the flexibility of mp3's. But that said there is absolutely NOTHING cool about driving to the store to buy overpriced music files and lame "bonus content" on a flash drive.

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Flash drive music delivery
by commorancy / October 23, 2007 3:25 AM PDT

==But that said there is absolutely NOTHING cool about driving to the store to buy overpriced music files and lame "bonus content" on a flash drive.==

I'm not saying that flash drives are cool or that they are even worth the money. However, if you want to sell off your collection in the future, a flash drive at least retains resale value in a used market. Downloaded MP3 files do not retain any value due to copyright laws. If retaining resale value of your music collection isn't important to you, that's great. For me, retaining the ability to resell my music collection is as much a part of the music buying experience as is the listening experience.

So, I don't personally find it inconvenient to purchase music from a store or in a physical form.

Also, I'd like to point out that this discussion of delivering music on flash drives is a bit late. I'd seen music deliveries on flash drives as recently as several months ago in Best Buy. Best Buy has been selling preloaded SD cards with full CDs from a few popular artists for several months. I can't tell you the exact date I saw the cards on sale, but it was at least spring of this year (possibly earlier).

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the medium is the message
by samaudio / October 23, 2007 3:13 AM PDT
In reply to: CDs not cool?

I think the most interesting aspect of format evolution is how it changes the music itself. I am in agreement with TMJ that the first song on a CD is often the best (at least it's the catchiest). Well, with a vinyl LP you got two "first songs", one on each side. The last song on a record tends to be longer and slower. Songs take on different meaning depending on the order and context. I think I will miss that variation in an "all single" world.

Also, hasn't anyone else found that their favorite song on an album ultimately turned out to be different than the song you liked most when you first bought it? This is almost always the case with me. Can I get an amen?

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Amen!
by minimalist / October 23, 2007 3:47 AM PDT

<i>I think I will miss that variation in an "all single" world.</i>

I have my doubts that being able to pick and choose will stop ambitious artists from putting together the best package of songs they can. The rise of 99 cent single sales simply means that one hit wonder artists and the studios that handle them will have to earn their keep instead of padding their albums with filler and forcing you to buy a sub par collection. That can't be a bad thing.

<i>Also, hasn't anyone else found that their favorite song on an album ultimately turned out to be different than the song you liked most when you first bought it?</i>

It almost never is the same song for me. I can't comprehend how anyone could listen to a 30 second snippet and decide which songs are worth downloading immediately (although I can tell total crap immediately in which case I just move on) . Music takes time to digest and great music doesn't always come out and grab you by the jugular.

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The Cool thing About CD's
by Renegade Knight / October 26, 2007 7:23 AM PDT
In reply to: CDs not cool?

I can give them to my kids, or my friends and I'm legit. I own it.

My Amazon.com mp3's have stupid restrictions as will all others because corporate media types seem to think that I want to pay for something and not really own it. Sorry, I don't. Disposable crap should cost as much as a square of TP since that's what their business model is patterned after.

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Disposable Music
by commorancy / October 26, 2007 10:41 AM PDT

Yes, I heartedly agree. If you own physical tangible media, you can give it away or sell it and not be violating any laws. If you buy from AmazonMP3 store and you want to do this, you are violating laws. This effectively makes purchasing music via download disposable. Your collection has no worth and cannot be resold or even given away to someone else under any circumstances (you'd be violating copyright laws).

This is why I still buy CDs and will continue to purchase physical tangible delivery methods over putting money into music downloads. Disposable lossy MP3-based music should cost much less than tangible products and, right now, the download prices don't reflect these severe limitations.

Until the record labels and digital delivery stores offer some form of compensation to make up for these restrictions or unless they can figure out a way to still allow you to resell or give away purchased downloads, I can't justify paying for disposable worthless music at the current prices.

--
Brian from Cupertino

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flexibility v. salability
by minimalist / October 28, 2007 4:39 AM PDT
In reply to: Disposable Music

<i>If you own physical tangible media, you can give it away or sell it and not be violating any laws. If you buy from AmazonMP3 store and you want to do this, you are violating laws. This effectively makes purchasing music via download disposable. Your collection has no worth and cannot be resold or even given away to someone else under any circumstances (you'd be violating copyright laws).</i>

The 1 or 2 bucks per I could recoup per used CD in a store is offset by the gallon of gas I would have burned to go to the store to buy the CD in the first place. So I'm not convinced the salability of CD's is all that compelling an argument.

The question for me is this: Is it worth it to wait a week for Amazon to deliver a CD that I will only end up ripping to iTunes and then stick the CD itself in a box in my attic? Or should I pay a few bucks less and get it instantly in the same form I would end up listening to it anyway? I think the "worth" of digital music is measured not so much in its resale value but in its immediacy and its flexibility.

I find the lossless v. lossy arguments make sense in theory but don't hold up in real world listening (even on decent systems). My 192 VBR mp3's sound great through my home system and its no bargain package system I got at Best Buy.. And I certainly don't consider my mp3's disposable. If I did, I wouldn back my library up in triplicate and keep the hard drives in multiple locations.

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MP3s are not cheaper than CDs
by commorancy / October 28, 2007 5:07 PM PDT

<i>The 1 or 2 bucks per I could recoup per used CD in a store is offset by the gallon of gas I would have burned to go to the store to buy the CD in the first place. So I'm not convinced the salability of CD's is all that compelling an argument.</i>

It's not usually $1-2 bucks off when we're talking used CDs. New CDs cost between $11.99 (on sale for a short period) and $14.99 full price in places like Target and Wal-Mart. You can find these same CDs, many times, at $5.99-7.99 used. That's at at least 40-60% off. This usually ends up at least $6 off on average (and many times even more). That's a relatively substantial savings in the used market.

The downside of the used market isn't the price. The downside is availability. Yes, you can spend the gas to go over there. But, the savings isn't the primary issue. The problem is whether or not they have a used copy in stock. Of course, you can always call and ask them before you head over there and save on the gas.

<i>I think the "worth" of digital music is measured not so much in its resale value but in its immediacy and its flexibility.</i>

That depends entirely on your point of view. Yes, part of the experience of the music is listening to it. Part of it is its resale value. Music tastes change over time. In 20 years, will you be listening to this same music that you listen to today? Probably not. But, buying MP3s means the best you can do is store them on your hard drive to take up continued space. Or, alternatively, you wipe them and lose your money completely. You can't sell them and you can't even give them away for fear of piracy concerns. If they were tangible media, you could at least donate them to charity or to a library for others to enjoy. You can't even do this with downloaded tracks.

Again, it's all based on your point of view. If your concerns over immediacy and convenience outweigh later resale, then by all means buy into the download process.

<i>I find the lossless v. lossy arguments make sense in theory but don't hold up in real world listening (even on decent systems).</i>

192k bitrate songs are marginal. With discerning ears, you can hear lossy artifacting. Artifacts are especially audible on 128k bit rate MP3 files. It's not until you get to 256k that these artifiacts are somewhat less noticeable. But, there is a definite difference in presence and brightness between MP3s and uncompressed audio. Of course, with today's commercial pop/rock music, most of it has already been compressed to a fare-the-well through digital compression algorithms in the studio long before it even reaches the MP3 format. This is why it's nary impossible to tell the difference between lossy and lossless file compression schemes in pop/rock music today. If you're listening to classical music or other types of music with more dynamic range, you can much more easily tell the difference in an MP3 and an uncompressed file format.

In fact, it was already stated that sound engineers are already re-engineering today's music to sound 'best' on iPods and other digital players. So, much of today's music is very midrangey with less high and low ends (that MP3 players and the MP3 format don't reproduce all that well).

But, the final point to CDs is this. With a CD, you can always go back and re-encode the music at will. Grab the CD and re-encode it. So, if another better format comes along, re-encode it and you're all set. If you've bought MP3s, on the other hand, converting an already compressed format to another compressed format is pointless and leads to the photocopy effect (degradation with each subsequent re-encode). Unless you have access to a full uncompressed edition, you're pretty much stuck with the format you bought.

<i>Or should I pay a few bucks less and get it instantly in the same form I would end up listening to it anyway?</i>

Pay a few bucks less? Since when? Most CDs are $15 on average with about 15 tracks. That ends up right around 99 cents per track. The same exact price you pay at the iTunes store per track. You're not getting any discount by buying it in MP3 format when you buy one track at a time. Even at 79 cents per track, that ends up $11.85 for a full CD of 15 tracks. That still at the same cost as a CD in a store that's marked with a sale price.

Now, if they price MP3 albums at $9.99, that means you have to buy the entire album to get that price. Yes, that's slightly cheaper than the $11.85, but it's still not as cheap as buying the CD used. And, again, it's disposable music. You pay, you lose your money as you can't resell your downloads. There are a lot more negatives with digital music downloads than positives.

Of course, if you're pro-disposable music, have fun spending (or should I say, throwing away) your hard earned cash.

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academic argument
by minimalist / October 28, 2007 11:35 PM PDT

<i>Pay a few bucks less? Since when? Most CDs are $15 on average with about 15 tracks. That ends up right around 99 cents per track. The same exact price you pay at the iTunes store per track. You're not getting any discount by buying it in MP3 format when you buy one track at a time.</i>

I don't do singles. I listen to artists, not songs or hits. I buy complete unprotected albums for as little as 2.50 at eMusic, 8.50 at Amazon, 9.99 at Othermusic, and for never more than 9.99 at iTunes. If Best Buy happens to have the CD for 9.99 and I am there already I might get it but I still prefer to give my money to an independant digital shop like Other Music. But I don't pay more than 10 dollars for a CD anymore. Blame it on the 19.99 DVD, but I will never pay 15.99 or 17.99 again for a music CD like I did back in the 90's. It simply isn't worth it.

<i>Music tastes change over time. In 20 years, will you be listening to this same music that you listen to today?</i>

Actually yes. And in fact I am rediscovering a lot of what I listened to 20 years ago right now and I am glad I kept my copies so could rip them to mp3 because many of them are out of print. I don't trade in music for precisely this reason.

<i>192k bitrate songs are marginal. With discerning ears, you can hear lossy artifacting. </i>

192 and 256 VBR mp3's certainly sound great to me running through a NAD amp and a pair of Advent speakers or with a nice pair of Shure headphones. But I don't listen to music sitting still. It's always while I am entertaining, or doing chores around the house, or in the car, or while I'm at work. I think most people listen in similar ways ands are going to be hard pressed to hear the artifacting you claim is so apparent. I would guess its only apparent in rarified situation (audiophiles sitting in the sweet spot of their expensive listening rooms). Lossy v. lossless is an academic argument that simply doesn't affect the majority of music lovers in the world.

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Listening vs Collecting
by commorancy / October 29, 2007 3:09 AM PDT
In reply to: academic argument

<i>Lossy v. lossless is an academic argument that simply doesn't affect the majority of music lovers in the world.</i>

Your argument is all based on listening and hearing only. This is only half of my argument, the other half you so readily disregarded. The other half is that you can't do anything else with an already compressed lossy format. If you buy lossy format files, you can't re-encode them and make them sound 'better'. In fact, they will sound worse. So, while your ears may not hear a problem in the original MP3 file, a reconversion will sound worse. Therefore, purchasing lossy music does affect the majority of listeners in other ways than hearing. And some of these people will also be affected by the audio quality as well. It also affects the download listener because they can't even give the music to their friend to 'borrow' without copyright violations. With a CD, you can hand it to your friend and let them listen. With downloaded MP3s, that's a copyright violation.

<i>Actually yes. And in fact I am rediscovering a lot of what I listened to 20 years ago right now and I am glad I kept my copies so could rip them to mp3 because many of them are out of print. I don't trade in music for precisely this reason.</i>

And here is one of the precise reasons why it is best to buy and own physical media with uncompressed audio instead of MP3s. You can't re-rip purchased MP3 files as you do not have an original. As I said, trying to upconvert an MP3 to a 'better' compressed format will simply make it sound worse. If you have an original uncompressed disk, you can easily downconvert that material again to whatever better format comes along and, yes, get better quality out of the deal. Obviously, it will be no better than 16bit by 44.1khz with a Redbook Audio CD.

Worse, with MP3 downloads, if you lose your hard drive containing your purchased material, you didn't burn or have an external copy and it goes out of print, you may not be able to get it back. MP3s will likely still fall under the same catalog restrictions and limitations as printed CDs. So, I full well expect some music to go out of print even in digital catalogs.

With full uncompressed audio, you can convert it to 128-320k (or other formats) at your own personal discretion. As far as I know, there are yet no sites selling 320k bit rate downloads. Mind you, when people begin distributing 24 bit audio and 5.1 mixes, you will notice a difference in the audio quality. Note, you can't do a 5.1 mix in an MP3 file.

For me, I'd prefer to have a 16 (or preferably a 24) bit .WAV file to purchase. This gives me the most flexibility, at least as far as conversions. But, downloads still don't allow me to resell the music or even allow another person to borrow the music nor will the music have any 'collector' value. Items like Picture Discs which have collector value because of their unique nature and tangibility can never exist in the digital space. In fact, as I said, it simply becomes disposable music with absolutely no aftermarket value.

Music has long had a collectible market. There are plenty of people who will pay large amounts of cash to get ahold of rare vinyl and CDs. But, in a digital market, all that goes away. Again, there will be no collectible market for music in the digital space.

BTW, this MP3 lossy argument is all pointless anyway. Once people have gigabit pipes into the home (and we will at some point) and iPods with 500 GB (or more) of storage, we won't even need compressed audio files. We'll be purchasing full uncompressed .WAV files instead. Because, a 50MB file will be an instantaneous download and take up miniscule amounts of space in the same way that MP3s presently do. The only issue that will still need to be addressed is the ability to give away or resell the download items to other people.

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If its "not a problem"... its not a problem.
by minimalist / October 29, 2007 10:10 AM PDT

</i>So, while your ears may not hear a problem in the original MP3 file, a reconversion will sound worse.

Um.... If people truly do "not hear a problem" with their music collection, why on earth would they care about re-encoding? If there is "no problem"... then there is nothing that needs fixing.

<i>Therefore, purchasing lossy music does affect the majority of listeners in other ways than hearing. And some of these people will also be affected by the audio quality as well. It also affects the download listener because they can't even give the music to their friend to 'borrow' without copyright violations.</i>

Remember mixed tapes you would give to friends to hear all the best new bands? They take about 2-3 minutes to make with a CD burner and iTunes. Then my friends usually end up downloading the complete album of the artists they liked and tossing the mixed CD. Notice how its the CD in this situation that is considered disposable and not the MP3 files. Ironic I'd say.

(I know, I know... mixed CD's may or may not infringe on copyright. Call me reckless, but I'll take my chances. Personally I think I am more likely to me prosecuted for pulling the tags off my mattress that say do not remove under penalty of law).

<i>If you have an original uncompressed disk, you can easily downconvert that material again to whatever better format comes along and, yes, get better quality out of the deal. Obviously, it will be no better than 16bit by 44.1khz with a Redbook Audio CD.</i>

Again, academic argument. These numbers games makes no difference to the vast majority of music listeners out there. Audiophiles can argue about musical perfection and sampling rates till they are blue in the face. The majority of listeners just want their music to sound great and be flexible. Judging from the success of MP3 players and iTunes and Windows Media Player as a home jukeboxes I'd say these people feel their needs are being met.

If people want to continue buying CD's nobody's stopping them. But I think its a bit elitist to presume those of us who prefer the flexibility of MP3's are unsophisticated or lacking in "discernment". They simply feel the advantages of digital music files outweigh the advantages of CD's.

<i>Worse, with MP3 downloads, if you lose your hard drive containing your purchased material, you didn't burn or have an external copy and it goes out of print, you may not be able to get it back.</i>

I have my 130GB music library backed up in 3 physical locations. If you have a house fire though, bye bye CD's. Or if your kid scratches one up, etc. This is actually one of the best argument FOR digital music, not traditional CD's.

<i>There are plenty of people who will pay large amounts of cash to get ahold of rare vinyl and CDs. But, in a digital market, all that goes away. Again, there will be no collectible market for music in the digital space.</i>

Collectors (like me) who collect to listen probably don't care because we bought the music to listen to it, not sell it at a profit. Collectors who buy to sell at a later date will continue to seek out physical media. In fact, a future in which physical media is a rarity will just make their collections more valuable.

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