Let’s get physical: why CD is better than file


According to most forecasts from ten years ago, physical music media such as CDs and vinyls should be a relict of the past by now. Yet, despite the whole digital revolution, they are doing remarkably well in my opinion. That’s good news for me because I’m enthusiastic about my growing collection of CDs and I can still get vast majority of what I’m interested in on a shiny plastic disc. I guess people have different reasons why they buy them. Today I want to tell you about one major reason why I do so.

I don’t have anything against files or streaming services. In fact, as soon as I get a CD album I immediately rip it to FLAC files and form now on I mostly listen to these files. So why to bother with the disc when I can get the same content from Internet in seconds, not to bother about finding a local store or waiting for a parcel? No, it’s not about the nice booklet and CD print, although they are a nice addition. Most importantly, with this piece of plastic comes a set of rights you don’t get with any digital service.

In a nutshell, when you buy a digital file, what you really get is right to make copies of that file and to play it, nothing more. What is important is that you can’t transfer this right to anyone else, not temporarily nor permanently. Physical media, on the other hand, is something to which you have full rights that come with ownership: you can borrow it, sell it, play it, do whatever you please (except maybe for playing it to the audience). Most importantly, in case of selling, you transfer all these rights to new owner, just like with any other thing like a car or a TV set.

I like to look at it from the standpoint of value. When you buy a file, obviously it has value to you, because you can use it (play it). But to everyone else, this file presents 0 value, basically no one else can do anything legal with it. But when you buy a CD for, let’s say, 10$ it is still worth 10$ to anyone else (minus potential wear of course). And yet, digital albums cost almost exactly the same as regular physical releases. With physical media, you get full rights at no additional cost. Moreover, you can always make a file of that media and store it somewhere safe, so you also have all the benefits of a file.

How does that work in practice, why should you care? Recently I made some interesting observation on my Discogs account. Currently, my collection of CDs, small as it is, is worth an average of 12$ per CD. That’s roughly equal to the average price of new CDs I buy! The price for each CD was calculated as median price of CDs of the same release in the same condition as mine that were sold on Discogs. Of course disproportions are quite big: some CD are “worth” as little as 2$ – 3$ but some actually gained on value in time (mostly due to they limited availability).

So, If today I decided I’m no longer interested in the whole music thing, I should be able to get back most of what I invested. I’m basically listening to music for free! This will probably vary depending on what genres you prefer and how you handle and store your media, and of course it takes extra space in your home and is a bit more time-consuming. But if you’re a music enthusiast like me, you probably won’t mind it at all.

To sum it all up, even though it’s 2017 and so many goods are now purely virtual, I see absolutely no reason why I should resign from buying music on physical media. It’s probably a matter of commitment: for a casual listener, file is probably good enough. But at some point, when you buy enough music, I think it’s just economically wise to go physical.

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Wrupk Urei – Kõik Saab Korda

Wrupk Urei - Kõik Saab KordaWelcome back after this longer-than-usual brake. I’ve spent this time taking a major turn in my professional career. Luckily that didn’t impact my music research, unfortunately it did impact my other activities, blogging included. Now that the storm is over, I come back to tell you about all the great music I’ve discovered during that period. Ready? Lets start with this fresh, or should I say freshly reheated, treat from Estonia. Continue reading

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Pienza Ethnorkestra – Indiens d’Europe

Pienza Ethnorkestra - Indiens d'EuropeLet’s start with hurdy gurdy. It’s a medieval music instrument that is basically made of a lyre, a crank and some buttons. You might occasionally find it in museums and even less frequently used by quaint artists. I have learned about it just recently and although I know that in other circumstances it wouldn’t make much of an impression, in skilful hands of Thierry Bruneau it has blown me away.

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Don’t buy pig in a poke!

Pig in a PokeWhen my boss gets angry he often says “Stop giving me excuses, give me solutions!”. I was about to write another post about piracy in music, but I decided to give it an unexpected form. I’d like to share with you my idea of an Internet service that I have came up with recently. I think that this service (let’s call it tentatively: SoundByte) could turn some pirates on the righteous path. Continue reading

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AltrOck’s finest: Ske – 1000 Autunni

Ske - 1000 AutunniGreat timing, isn’t it? Spring has just started and here I am writing review about an album entitled ‘1000 Autumns’. Well, you know how it is, when inspiration comes you just go with the flow. My mood today is cloudy and grey, but with a hidden promise of sunshine and this is exactly what you’ll find on this release.

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Unit Wail

Unit Wail - Pamgaea Proxima & RetortI don’t know what’s going on with these French bands, I just can’t get them of my mind. My last year’s in-depth study of Soleil Zeuhl catalogue has given me so much material that even though I’ve moved on to different musical styles since then, I still find it important to remind you about this stunning and surprisingly little known hatchery of music innovation. Continue reading

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Sésame, ouvre-toi!

Setna Guérison Cycle I Xing Sa Création de l'univers“Will Mankind be able to find the way to cure itself?” That I don’t know, but one thing is certain: with each new release from Setna and Xing Sa, our chances are getting better. Continue reading

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