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Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014

The End of an Era

Posted Friday, April 24, 2009, at 1:18 PM

I'm a music lover and a collector of the recordings of a variety of artists. Compact Discs (CDs) have been the dominant format for purchasing music these last twenty years. I have a few, but then I still have cassettes, albums, 8-tracks, 45's, and even 2-tracks. Each dominant format was replaced by a better technology, or so we were told. And each time a better technology came along, I'd see the stores eventually get rid of their stock and supplies in the old formats.

Nowadays few stores still sell music. In our area of the country Circuit City won their war on several small Record Store chains in order to get consumers to come in and be tempted into purchasing electronics; now Circuit City is a thing of the past. Wal-mart focuses on best sellers in pop, rock, and country; they not only drove prices so low that other stores got out of the business, they've also been able to censor the content of what they do sell. I've been drawn to places like Borders and Barnes and Noble primarily because they specialized in offerings that weren't in the top 25, the non-best sellers. And then came the email notice from Borders:

"50% on all CDs until stock is gone."

By the second day of the "sell" the shelves were half full. One store clerk told me that Friday night saw lines of people purchasing twenty to thirty CDs each. I'm there on Saturday and the store manager expected everything to be gone within the week. He raised the same question that was on my mind: was it the "sell" or the fear of no longer being able to find those hard to find acquisitions? I ended up purchasing six works that I doubt I'll ever see in a store again.

Friends of mine talk about on-line digital purchasing of music. I guess I'll eventually go that route although I have a lot of doubts that it's a better technology. However, I'll certainly miss that sense of being in a store with others who also collect music. I've been a member of a community of sorts. Meetings were held at a variety of locations with a variety of participants, but you had a sense that those by your side were just-like-you. On-line purchasing just can't produce that same opportunity for "a stranger" to turn your way and excitedly ask "have your heard this artist yet?"

More than that, listening to an I-Pod takes away that kinesthetic sense of "touching" the music. I used to love the art work inside an album's sleeve; I was purchasing much more than just the music on vinyl. Even CDs still incorporated photos and lyrics with the booklet found in most plastic cases. The era of tangible music may be over or at least near death. I shall miss it terribly.

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I miss albums and liner notes. It was great to listen to a new album, read the lyrics (sometimes) and liner notes. I got to know band members, find lines in the notes that seemed to speak directly to me, and probably missed a few in-jokes as well. I buy a lot digitally now, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

-- Posted by David Worthington on Sat, Apr 25, 2009, at 1:41 PM

Digital music sales have definitely effected the music business. Music stores everywhere are closing. Virgin records (music megastore) are shutting there their doors as well. The music industry just can't keep up with technology. Buying online is alright (although I agree, i totally miss the artwork on the sleeves and covers) as long people actually buy the music and NEVER download it illegally.

-- Posted by indtonyc on Sat, Apr 25, 2009, at 9:49 AM

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Sunshine for the Soul
Rev. P.T. Wilson
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P.T. Wilson is the senior pastor at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church, Greencastle, and is also the University Chaplain at DePauw University.
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