- Entertainment and Media
COMPACT DISCS: Dead? They Only Wish...
Compact discs are yesterday's news, old technology, inferior product. Everyone who is anyone knows it and if you don't, well, good luck plugging that diesel-powered disc player into the brand-spanking-new system of the future because more than likely it won't, ahem, work. Even if it did work, wouldn't sound good. Nope. Better to hitch your wagon to the future, to new technology, to electronics which take you to the stars and beyond. And hang the price.
But, wait. Before you toss that CD player into the dumpster, let's take a look at who is telling you those things. Why, surprise, surprise! It is the very people who stand to profit from that new technology, and their sometimes (but not always) unaware dupes, the media. And be aware, a portion of that same media still swears that the problems with Microsoft's Vista is a myth and what Bush did was not only necessary but good for America and the world.
The cries of alarm have come in many different shapes and forms, and from those who claim the technology useless and outdated (it isn't) to those who compare the warmth of the newer technologies, and the old--- vinyl, without explaining that most of the time, the problem is in the preparation and engineering rather than the format. It is a case of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing (think Bush and weapons of mass destruction), and it is knowledge the music industry desperately wants you to believe. After all, their stockholders depend on it.
Why kill the CD?
In a word--- money. At this point, the music industry claims a hemorrhage of untold proportions, brought on by the opening of the gates of the Bastille Musicale by the villainous pirates of the digital domain and through which the Swarm of Evil (including children and soccer moms) pillage and loot that which is the music industry's, by Right of God. If that sounds like an overstatement, you haven't followed the industry's henchmen, the RIAA, in their judicial holy crusade to gain recompense from said Swarm, as dastardly a bunch of evildoers as inhabit the Earth. Never mind that the ethics behind many of the lawsuits brought have been questionable. Never mind that many of the cases are circumstantial, at best. This is about Right! And God help any of us who stand in their way.
The thing is, the record companies had it within their grasp to alleviate if not quell the revolution. In one of the biggest gaffes in the music industry's history, the various record companies chose to ignore that which their recording arms embraced. Most recording studios fell all over each other in the rush to upgrade, the few left behind looked upon as industry dinosaurs. Whereas years later, those supposed dinosaurs would be central to much of the return-to-analogue movement, the record companies themselves would be revealed as the real dinosaurs. Their loyalty, after all, is to the Board and, ultimately, the stockholders.
Sure, they whined for awhile and then called in in the lawyers. When that didn't work, they came up with a plan. The plan. Kill the technology. One way of doing that, of course, is to ply the public with 'even better' technology, being careful, of course, to package it with anti-piracy safeguards (In other words, you can buy it but you can't duplicate it). That takes time to develop and naturally there would be the lag time between development and actual sales, but it seemed a viable option. Sure, there would be problems (think 'root kit'), but nothing insurmountable. So knowingly or unknowingly, they adopted it.
The idea, of course, was to find technology which would do what they wanted and then sell the idea to the public. First, though, they had to discredit what was already there--- the compact disc. Through a series of information maneuvers a la the Bush Administration, they found friends among the techies and the media and laid the seed. A simple 'look at this' while pointing to a myriad of electronicity, most notably Blu-Ray, did the trick. Theories about sound flew and the media bit and has been hooked since. The compact disc is history, they say. Old technology, they say. Look at these, the future of entertainment, they say. What they don't say (and probably don't even realize) is that the compact disc is not going away any time soon. And here's why...
The compact disc is the people's format...
It didn't start out that way, but as the technology was accepted and developed and more and more musicians became involved, prices dropped until recorded music actually became, gasp, affordable! Put that alongside the Net's capability to carry on business outside of the normal framework and you have a music company dilemma.
The drastic circumstances music companies face are not just the result of piracy and/or peer-to-peer file sharing, though that certainly had its impact. They are also a result of music industry ignorance. And ostentation. And narcissism. A whole new model appeared right beneath the music companies' noses and they didn't even blink. They laughed. Not all of them, but enough.
While they laughed, the music grew and as the music grew, their control dwindled. They were no longer the only game in town. All of a sudden, anyone could play. Music CDs were now a mouse click away, mp3's a download. After years of being king of the hill, they found the playing field leveling. They didn't like it.
And they still don't. They would love to kill the CD, but the music game is no longer up to the major labels. It is now everyone's game, in spite of what they want you to believe, and that is due largely to the CD and its affordability.
Wait, you say, CDs cost as much as they ever did, so what is that. That is somewhat true, but here's the key. When I sell my CD for fourteen or fifteen dollars, I get back ten. When a record company sells it--- well, it's one hell of a lot less. So I ask you--- what is that?
Here's my point. If you've ever talked with a real musician for any period of time, you realize that the songs they write are their babies, no less. It is not an easy thing to put yourself out there with no clothes, as it were. There are thousands of musicians doing just that and are enabled to do it because of the compact disc. I don't think any sane person would take that away from them. Or corner a rat. Or get between a mother bear and her cub. You get the idea.