Now! That’s What I Call…Extinct: Lay the Compact Disc to Rest in 2012



Courtesy of MCT


With the end of the year approaching, some people may play along with the “end of the world” myth as we enter 2012. Though it is pretty certain that life will continue after the new year, some things will sadly come to an end. Not everything we know today will survive this milestone. Compact discs, aka CDs for those of us ’90s children, will surely meet their end in 2012.

Courtesy of MCT

In a digital world, it is all about minimizing. Everything should be smaller in size but bigger in capability. The standard CD simply does not fit these standards anymore. MP3s do not take up  space (unless you count the disc space on your computer’s hard drive), usually offer bonus tracks and other virtual bonuses and are generally cheaper on iTunes than the hard copies sold in stores.

The news of the death of the CD may be surprising, even though most of our music collections are generally online. For many of us, CDs are just the normal way of thinking of music production. As a kid, I had a CD player in my room with music from the Backstreet Boys, the first Now! That’s What I Call Music compilation (hard to imagine that they’re almost up to 50 editions by now), Britney Spears and TLC. These artists topped the charts throughout the ’90s and 2000s. So how have the times progressed so fast that the CD is now outdated?

When asked if the CD would still exist in five years, Matrix Revelations editor Bernard Van Isacker stated, “Yes, but in a different format. Normal CDs will no longer be available because they don’t offer enough value. Limited editions on the other hand will remain available…the album as we know it now, however, will be dead in five years, if not sooner.” He also predicted that downloadable music will have replaced the material “CD album” within the next two years.

When one change is made, many must be made in turn to keep up. When the Internet became such a social norm, and the digitalization of our society began, we lost the need for material things in favor of owning them digitally. Why go buy a book when you can download it online or onto an e-Reader? Why go to the store when you can order anything from shoes to flowers to even groceries online and have them sent straight to your door?

Many book stores have gone out of business because of the popularization of e-Readers, and various stores have become online-only vendors or have opened up websites where they were not connected before. It was only a matter of time that music would be affected as well, since iTunes has grown so much in the past few years. Hard-copy albums can’t compete with the convenience of buying your music online and having it downloaded straight to your music library, all with the click of a mouse.

Though we may still find comfort in our CDs and find it completely absurd that they are greeting extinction, those in the music business have seen this coming for quite some time. When you stop and think about it, it makes a lot of sense, no matter how bittersweet it may be. We all own some form of an iPod or MP3 player as opposed to a Walkman and probably don’t buy many hard copies anymore anyway.

Let’s face it, half the time we don’t even pay for our music, period, especially with Apps such as Pandora radio and Spotify; never mind laying out the cost of a hard copy CD for it to sit in the box after the 10 minutes it takes for it to be synched to your iTunes library. So, instead, we opt for our other options, and the unpurchased CDs sit on the store shelves collecting dust. In cutting out the production of CDs, the cost of distribution and shipping is cut, and the industry can focus more on production. Saving money is definitely a bonus, but like the book shops closing due to eReaders, many record shops will be forced to close their doors as well, with little merchandise to sell and even smaller demand.

It is sad to see our material world diminish right in front of our eyes, even though we all buy into the electronic era of our world’s current society. It is everything that we grew up with coming to an end, although all great things must. All CDs are not planned to stop being produced; it is planned that limited editions will still be available. Like everything else, we mustn’t look to this change as a negative, the CD has just run it’s course. In a culture where Lady Gaga is inspired by ’80s icons David Bowie and Madonna, hippie fashion can actually be hip and vinyl records were the “new black” for a time, the CD will surely make a comeback in the years to come.