Vignette: Does anyone buy CDs anymore?

Edmar Borromeo-2

“Print is dead!” people cry, but on a day-to-day basis we see a lot more magazines and newspapers than actual CDs. Can we blame its demise on the file sharing software, Limewire? Do we blame it on Steve Jobs’ pride and joy, the iPod? What has happened to the music we love and how we listen to it?

It is a dying contest with print and compact discs and the latter seems to be winning a fight neither wants to be part of.



Music has always been the oddball medium. We download MP3 files online only to burn them into a CD. We look for live performances only to listen to them alone in a room. The same cannot be said for other media like books. To download a PDF of The Hunger Games, only to print it and have it bound together would be absolute bonkers.

It goes on with how we speak of it. We say we watch TV and read books but listen to music. We do not say we listen to iPods, or albums, or CDs. We say music. Even in the verbiage, there is not much support or backing for compact discs.

Over a year ago, it was reported that total worldwide CD sales dropped by an astounding 13 percent. Half a year later from that reporting, that number went above 14 percent. One would think they have figured out music, but it being the oddball medium, it surprises us again. In the young year of 2014, vinyl sales hit its highest mark since 1997. The only year vinyl sales were higher was when Princess Diane and Notorious B.I.G. were still alive. Whether or not their deaths had anything to do with the drop is still under investigation.

Now with sales in vinyl up by a huge lot, digital up by a little and CDs down by more than a bunch, the direction of music is anyone’s guess.


Savior and killer

Andrew Florentino, the lead singer of “Actually Not Here” and the man behind the BGNR, says that he knows he should be paying what is due to the artists but realizes that since no one really buys CDs anymore, he too shall adapt.

Is there any guilt though when we do not give anything back to the artists who give more than enough? The common excuse is that they go to their concerts and support the musicians there. Florentino agrees, saying his guilt only stems from missing out on the opportunity to hear these favorite songs played live, not even from paying for a ticket.

Is music in a better place now than it was years ago? Florentino argues that it is, saying, “[Accessibility is] a great thing for musicians who are starting out to easily get noticed. It’s just tougher and takes a longer time to sort out the gems from the tons of [expletive]. Stealing and piracy is irrelevant, especially now in 2014. Musicians have learned how to overcome the income-by-record-sales hurdle.”

Isaac Hanson from the retired trio “Hanson” said that downloading is both saving and killing music. With all the improvements in technology, music has been taking one step forward and one step back. Bedroom musicians and garage bands have an easier time getting their music out there, but getting paid for their efforts is what is sacrificed.


Music’s successor

Steve Stoute, the founder of LinkedIN, used Beyonce’s latest self-titled album as a prime example of not where music is heading but where it should be. If people do not want to pay for that new album anymore, maybe it is time to change the product. Maybe it is time to spend a few extra hours in research and development to improve a musical commodity.

As idiotic as it may sound, it seems that maybe music is not just an audio anymore. A person is not limited to plugging those Apple earphones and closing their eyes. Music has become a visual experience accompanied with sound. Fans want to and need to see the bands strumming their guitars and crooning away. They need to see the lights flash faster than their eyes can recognize the colors. They need to see the story of the song because this time we can’t just leave it up to the imagination.



The state of CDs is murky especially since it is only one part of the pie of music. Applications like 8tracks remove the control of the playlist from the hands of the people. It follows the formula of the cult website, Chatroulette. Users of both applications simply find themselves blindly finding content as they continue to next the song or being. Others do not have iPod’s or cellphones past the polytone capabilities. This forces them to use sites like Youtube to listen to their music. The video accompanying the song can prove to be pointless but the website gets the job done. These numerous services serve as the DJ in road trips and parties, proving that even the player of the music is as volatile as the one hit wonders that flood the Billboard 100.

There is though again an oddball beauty with music in its complicated states. When barriers are removed in attaining music, with nothing to stop an excited explorer from diving into the oceans of songs, real freedom and true interests arise. Remove the money from the music and you are left with the passion. But you can’t feed a family with passion. That will still remain to be the problem.

The question that arises is, “Will prominent musicians stop making music because they are not getting paid?” If the answer here is yes, doesn’t that create a self-sustaining mechanism to rid the world of passionless music or those in it for the wrong reasons? The argument and logic is not the most sound but it does make its points. What do you think?

Jose Felipe Montinola

By Jose Felipe Montinola

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