getting physical

(for the full post go to www.joshuavt.com)

Here’s a question for you, and for myself as well. Why do I buy cd’s? Or vinyl for that matter? Sure, lets talk about the easy answers – I like holding a physical and tangible object in my hands. I like reading the liner notes. I like the little buzz I get from opening the plastic packaging and seeing all the art work for the first time. I enjoy the fact that I can see a complete piece of art the way the artist intended it to be presented.

Typing this now I’m a little struck by the fact that my initial defences of disc purchasing are all visually related reasons.  What about the music??

If I want to be completely realistic about how much time I spend at home listening to music on our stereo, it probably accounts for 3 and half percent of my total listening time in general, which on the average week is not a whole lot sadly. Lately when I buy a cd, it comes home with me, gets unwrapped and looked over, liner notes read, disc popped into the computer and ripped, then cd shelved. And there it sits for the most part, unless we have people over or are spending an extended period of time in the living room. Looking at it this way, my cd buying habit is extremely wasteful in an environmental  sense. The amount of packaging, ink, and plastics that go into the manufacturing of the object is large, and then coupled with the fact that this object will realistically get taken out and used a limited number of times makes it all seem really unnecessary. Most download sites like bandcamp offer your choice of audio formats, so loss of fidelity due to bad mp3 compression is becoming a thing of the past. Apple does their own encoding which isn’t as great as getting a full WAV file but it’s getting better.

I essentially thinking out loud here, I think artists have a variety of amazing ways to present their products at this point with enhanced material for usage on an iphone/ipad for example, without having to print a physical product. I’m also really curious how many people out there either buy 1 – cds 2 – vinyl 3 – just digital. Any thoughts?

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One thought on “getting physical

  1. CNeufeld says:

    We still buy CDs for the most part unless we only want one or two songs on an album (although that happens rarely) and then its a trip to itunes. Of course, I’m the only one with an mp3 player and that is relatively new, so we still listen to CDs in our vehicle and living room. I would be worried that if something happened to my computer’s hard drive and backup that I would lose all my mp3s if digital was the only medium I had them in (and the chances of both going at the same time isn’t as rare as you’d think). Therefore, I’d probably burn the digital files onto CDs anyways so I’d have them as further back-up…. I see your concern from an environmental standpoint and shudder to think about all the vinyl and cassettes that have ended up in landfills over the years when we moved to new ways to listen to music… Same thing will probably happen someday to CDs when they become obsolete. Seems to be the type of society we live in and you don’t want me on that rant.

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