The streamers have fallen and the cheers have subsided. The tenth birthday of the iPod is well and truly over. But should anyone have celebrated in the first place?
I would argue that the answer is ‘no’, but only in the sense that it has likely killed off the CD. You can’t deny the iPod has revolutionsed music consumption, so I won’t. I will merely proffer that it has ruined the art form that is the CD. That would be a bad thing, because like vinyl now, we’re beginning to realise that letting it go as quickly as we did was, perhaps, a mistake. Now it’s a trendy thing to have a vinyl collection and to let your turntable do a bit of exercise on the weekend – letting those spits and crackles echo throughout your abode. But with the difficulty of finding vinyl and getting the right set up, it will only ever remain a trend for a select mob. That makes it cool in the Surry Hills sense of the word, but not cool from a broader perspective. CDs – this is your future, I hope you like vintage bikes and boaters.
CDs are soon to be the domain of specialty shops and those that have luckily held on to their old CD player. What’s really sad about this move is that it will spell the end of the physical form. Because of the “fit all your music in your pocket” iPod, a younger generation will never know the joys of searching a record store and discovering that lucky find, or trawling through a pile of CDs stacked up in the corner of their lounge room. I would like to think the point of the iPod was to be able to carry our CD collection in our pocket, not rid yourself of it altogether. To be fair, iTunes has to take equal blame for it with the iPod.
Sure, iTunes, BigPond Music et al are great but music is more than the instant gratification the digital download gives. It’s more than narky comments under an artist’s iTunes page and more than an invisible file that exists on a plane we will never visit. And with digital downloads costing similar prices to CDs, the only reason we are placing CDs with digital downloads is for the sake of convenience. Are we really that bloody busy that we cant run down to the local shops and grab a few CDs? Hell, you do it for milk and groceries even though you could be lazy and order them online.
There are a few knights fighting this losing battle that need to be acknowledged. Thank God for JB HiFi, I wish you had made it big sooner. Cheap CDs, massive range – who needs Wonderland? Maybe that’s why it shutdown. As I cross this thought stream, it occurs that perhaps this is the paragraph where I should put some blame on greedy stores trying to charge $30 for CDs too. HMV/Sanity did themselves no favours, neither did Borders before they collapsed. Try as they might though, I don’t think DSE Powerhouse and JB HiFi can keep the battle alive too much longer.
When it comes to the crunch, this could just be one man pining for the past and wishing things didn’t have to change so much. I’ll never be able to browse iTunes as I do JB. So thanks for convenience, iPod, but nothing more. I’m going to stick it out there and say that a real man will keep buying CDs and then transferring them to digital. After all, what else are you going to decorate your lounge room with? Art?
On another sad note, arguably the most iconic CD player of all time, The Bang & Olufsen Beosound 9000, is about to cease production after more than a decade on sale. The writing is on the wall…
Damian Francis is a frustrated CD buyer and compulsive media collector. He wrote this on an early morning flight in a haze but sticks to his argument.