Do you remember how many of us used to take our baseball cards in the 1960s and stick em in the spokes of our bicycles to hear that cool sound? After we were done with them we just threw them onto the street to be washed away by the rain or the town’s street cleaners. Some of those baseball cards would become worth thousands of dollars many years later. We had no idea what we were throwing away. In the mid-1980s, CDs became the biggest technological advance in the music business ever. Millions of record collectors threw away their record collections as they replaced each album on CD. Many of those fans who kept their vinyl collections reaped the benefits in holding on to them as an even greater technological advance evolved ten years later called the internet. That internet would eventually host a company called eBay that would serve as gold mine for people selling their old vinyl records.
Many vinyl albums on eBay and other auction sites would sell for five to fifty to times more than the original owners paid for them. I sold a Beatles album for five hundred dollars one time to a collector in Japan. I sold a 45 rpm single that I purchased for 10 cents in a garage sale for almost three hundred dollars to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I sold many original Bob Dylan six eye Columbia record albums for hundreds of dollars. I could go on and on with the hundreds of records I sold from my 1960’s and 1970’s record collection. I am not alone. Will this happen eventually to CDs? Read on…..
The Demise of CD Sales
The fall and almost complete end to CD sales is a consequences of the illegal file sharing services like Napster and Limewire, legal mp3 sales through Apple and Amazon, and finally streaming services like Pandora and Spotify. An entire generation of people have been raised never knowing the joy of purchasing a CD in a store.That generation for the most part are unaware of the sonic superiority of the CD compared to the narrow bandwidth of a musical streaming service.
The Discovery of Vinyl
Teens and twenty somethings have recently discovered the joy of owning vinyl. For the first time in their lives, they have experienced the pleasure of holding album art in their hands while listening to the sound of vinyl records reverberating through speakers bouncing of the wall of a room. Music sounds very different when its listened to in a living environment as opposed to pods in an ear canal. The vinyl experience illuminates all the senses. We took it for granted when we were young because we grew up listening to music on vinyl in the 1960s and 1970s. Today’s youth generation never experienced the organic sense of listening to music outside of a set of Apple ear pods from an inferior source of music such as an mp3.
Our Discovery of CDs
The recent explosion of new vinyl sales is a result of the youth generation experiencing what we did and it has blown their minds. These kids shared their experience through social media, posting pictures of purchased vinyl albums and so on. The resurgences in vinyl was never expected. It happened fast and it has not slowed down. It would probably be even more successful if record companies were not charging such outrageous prices for new vinyl, but that’s the history of record companies.
The story of vinyl’s resurgence and acceptance by today’s youth culture is important to note because economic and social patterns always repeat themselves. What happened with the resurgence of vinyl in the past five years will undoubtedly happen with CDs probably in the next ten years. It’s possible it may even happen earlier than that. Whether it happens with today’s youth generation or tomorrows, there is no doubt that a new generation of music fans will discover the sonic superiority of music CDs.
All it takes to argue that point is a reminder of what we experienced the first time we heard CDs. Most people who listened to their first CDs back in the 1980s were blown away by the sound instantly. We never heard the bass resonate as powerful as it did through the speakers. The sound of the drums hit you in the face like they had never done before. Come on, I know you remember that feeling of hearing those first CDs and being knocked out by how powerful and full the music sounded.
Of course, not all CDs sounded great as the record companies made many mistakes in mastering to CD old catalog that still sounded better on vinyl. Nonetheless, the new stuff being released on CD was mind altering and blew away the vinyl. The incredible financial and commercial success of the CD format is simple proof of that.
In recent years, most brick and mortar stores have stopped selling CDs or have limited space for the sale of CDs. The space in the music departments of chains like Best Buy Walmart and Target are now filled with Blu Rays, DVDs and Vinyl. However, this is a process that has happened over the past five years and we have gotten used to this. What is really unsettling for CD lovers is that the search for catalog CDs on the internet is starting to dry up.Record companies have pretty much stopped pressing CDs. Of course one can find any Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd catalog CD on the Internet as record companies continue to press these mega sellers for now. Nonetheless, certain titles from the catalogs of even big time artists like, Carly Simon, Little Feat, Carole King and so many more have disappeared.
Carly Simon’s Another Passenger CD was a huge selling album in the 1970s. It is out of print and sells for close to fifty dollars on Amazon and even more on eBay. Many of the 1970’s Little Feat CDs are very hard to get. The Little Feat album Hoy-Hoy sells for close to a hundred dollars on Amazon. This is a major classic rock band. John Lennon’s Mind Games will cost you over thirty dollars for a new CD on Amazon. Foghat’s Night Shift on CD sells for around fifty dollars. These are just four quick examples. CD titles from so many classic rock bands form the 1960s, 70s and 80s are all now gone from the internet for basic CD prices.
So to answer the question will CDs become collectible,? the answer is many of them have already became highly collectible. The real question is will basic CD releases from bands like Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen and so on become collectible? Will record companies start to press entire catalogs of legendary classic rock bands again? If they do, the prices will probably be high as we have witnessed how they have priced their reissued vinyl releases.
So think twice before you sells those old CDs you own for 25 cents in your garage sales, because collectors like me will be walking up your driveway looking to turn over those CDs for big time auction prices. Basic CDs will become the next big collectors item. History always repeats itself.