CDs edging closer to a fade-out

The CD as a music format will be dealt another blow when a printing plant in New Jersey closes. Sony has announced that in March it will shut its CD production facility in Pitman, a move signalling CDs are edging closer to the fringe.

In a music store in Old City, Max Milgram spends his day selling compact discs to customers, but admits he has no love for the format.

“It’s not a fun experience,” said Milgram invoking the 30-year-old debate of vinyl versus digital. “If I’m by myself, I have the time to stop what I’m doing and flip a record. With friends, it’s fun to flip through the stacks. It’s a more hands-on experience.”

The point is moot as digital downloads are threatening to sweep both vinyl records and CDs into obscurity. Vinyl has seen a small but significant uptick in popularity in the last few years, mostly because of hardcore fans such as Milgram. Now lovers of CDs are coming forward.

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Jon Solomon, a DJ in Princeton and owner of a small music label, prefers CDs over both downloads and LPs.

“If you’re looking on your shelves for something, it’s easier to find a recognizable spine of a CD — small as it might be,” said Solomon, who likes the concise packaging of compact discs. “For me it’s easier if you can see these readable spines than trying to remember: ‘Oh, what’s the name I’m looking for in this iTunes list of tracks.'”

A few years ago, some music labels began packaging short-run vinyl pressings with vouchers for free digital downloads of the album. The same is starting to happen with CDs, where albums by bands such as Silkworm (upcoming on Solomon’s label) and Shellac are releasing vinyl packaged together with a compact disc, allowing fans to have both an analog and digital version of the same music, without the problems associated with downloads.

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