Why You Should Buy Physical Copies of Music

Everyone streams all their music nowadays, but that doesn't mean you should stop buying physical copies of albums.

All 3 of Vampire Weekend's full albums on CD.

You probably listen to music, and you probably use Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, YouTube, Soundcloud, or something similar to do it. The internet was a HUGE deal for music, with the creation of iTunes and streaming websites. CDs, which were the most prominent medium for music before streaming became a thing, became obsolete insanely quickly. CDs did hang around for a while because people would play them in their cars still, but now nearly every car has either and AUX cord or Bluetooth capabilities, and everyone's music is directly on their smartphones. On the surface, there's really no reason to keep CDs. 

However, in recent years, sales of vinyl records have gone up. People buy old albums on vinyl for sentimental purposes and for the fun of having vintage music, but they're also buying new albums for the fun of a collection. Current artists still press vinyls of their albums that have come out just in the past few years and they can be found in record stores and book stores across the country. So why haven't CDs made a comeback in the same way?

I think you can think of it in the same way that a lot of people think about throwback fashion. At the moment, a lot of fashion from decades past is back in style, because it's old enough to be considered vintage and cool. However, clothing from the early 2000s, and even clothes from a decade ago are still looked at as totally tacky and ugly. I think CDs are going through a similar thing. People like vinyls because they feel like a fun throwback, but CDs feel like a recent memory. CDs are something you listened to 10 years ago, and now they aren't necessary. (Question for further consideration: what about tapes and 8-tracks? Why haven't they come back into fashion?)

But vinyls are so much more ridiculously inconvenient and obsolete than CDs (No shade toward vinyls, I totally collect them too). This silly stigma about not wanting things that aren't "old enough" heavily affects the sales of CDs, even though artists still sell them, and they're even more available than vinyls. Most cars still have CD players in them. Boomboxes are cheaper than record players. CDs themselves are cheaper and easier to find than vinyls, but for some reason CDs are often ignored by people who choose to stream music, while vinyls are collected and played. 

Clearly I'm a fan of CDs, and I'm really proud of my CD collection, and I also have a Spotify account that I use every single day and totally love. But regardless of how you like your music, every music lover should still be investing in physical copies of the music they like. 

Think about it—in however many years, when you want to look back at the music you used to love, will you be able to? You'll have replaced your phone several times, maybe changed your email, maybe gotten a new account on whatever website. Maybe Spotify or Apple Music will go out of business and disappear completely. When all of your music is stored in the cloud, where's the security in that. Personally, that would break my heart. As someone who holds music very closely to her heart, I plan on sharing my music with my future children and with my friends, and keeping it to look back on with fond memories. For me, it feels a lot more concrete and a lot safer to have a physical copy of an album that I love, because even if I get sick of it in 5 years, I'll still be able to look back and remember how it made me feel at the time. As long as you're not scratching or cracking your CDs, they'll pretty much last forever, so maybe in 2000 years archeologists will find my remains, clutching an extensive collection of CDs of bands from the 21st century.

I won't get into the debate about which medium produces the best sound, or what you should do with your music. Just know that I've never regretted buying a CD. I have CDs from my parents, and eventually my kids will have them from me. It's easy to tie an emotional connection to a physical object, and you can feel something just by looking at it, and, to be completely honest, I've never really felt anything by staring at an iTunes playlist. Don't believe me? Track down a physical copy of your favorite album. Look at the special artwork on the back of the case and on the disc. Read the lyric pamphlet inside. It feels better than just listening online.

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Why You Should Buy Physical Copies of Music