Alan Wexelblat at Copyfight posted “Death of the CD?” on April 9. He raises a question I’ve thought about, albeit not in those terms, as follows (Yes, Copyfight operates under a Creative Commons license, so this full quotation is legal):
I’m traveling this week back and forth to Portland. In the airports are a series of shops advertising “$20/2.” Reading the fine print shows that you can buy two DVDs or CDs for USD 20. This is, in my mind, a sign of the impending death of the CD.
Look at the difference: with the CD you get some music tracks, maybe some liner notes if you’re lucky, and… um, well, that’s about it.
Or, for the same $10 you can get a couple hours of video, plus commentary, alternate tracks, possibly multiple languages, maybe a behind-the-scenes or other feature. If you’re really jonesing for music you can buy concert DVDs of the same pop stars (these shops have tiny inventory – it’s all hit-oriented material). The concerts cover the new songs, and you get to watch your idol perform them (or lip-synch) and get a backstage view or maybe a bonus track with an interview or tourbus footage.
Explain to me again why you’d buy a CD?
I was going to post some of the answers here–but it turns out that comments on the post cover the essential points, e.g.:
- CDs are malleable–any CD with the “Compact Disc Audio Disc” imprint must not have copy protection (according to Philips), so can be ripped to MP3 or a lossless codec, have tracks combined with other tracks to make custom CD-Rs, have tracks downloaded to portable players, etc., etc. You can’t do anything with the music on a music DVD except listen to it on a DVD player (unless you’re a hacker and don’t mind violating DMCA).
- CDs offer reasonably full fidelity (some audiophiles will claim that they’re not as good as they should be, but)…as opposed to the compromised sound offered on downloads of any sort.
- Most important: We (many of us) listen to certain songs or pieces of music hundreds, maybe thousands of times; almost nobody other than a projectionist will watch a movie more than a few times (possibly excepting some kid’s movies).
Actually, CDs priced equally to DVDs that have been out for a year or more is pretty good pricing for the CDs. You can readily buy Hollywood releases for $10 or $7.50 after the studios have sold as many copies for $20 as they think they’re going to–while most record companies waitt many years to rerelease an album for much less than $10 to $12, if they ever do.
The medium-to-medium comparison just doesn’t work: DVDs and CDs serve fundamentally different purposes.