Nick Barovsky owner of The Audio in Lismore with some old loved vinyl records.
Nick Barovsky owner of The Audio in Lismore with some old loved vinyl records. Jacklyn Wagner

CD or no CD that is the question

IS THE compact disc about to go the way of the vinyl record?

Online music blogs are alive with rumours of the imminent death of the CD.

Online magazine Sideline has reported that major labels plan to abandon the CD-format by the end of 2012 and replace it with download and stream-only releases via iTunes and related music services.

The sale of CDs in Australia has continued to decline as the trend toward downloads picks up pace.

Latest figure from the Australian Recording Industry Association released earlier this year indicate that CD sales have declined by 16% in 2010, slipping to 23.5 million from 28.1 million in 2009.

Meanwhile digital album and singles downloads were up by 44% for albums and 37% for singles.

On top of all this when sales of CDs and downloads are combined the industry's overall dollar value has still declined by 13.9% with industry insiders blaming the drop on piracy.

For the owner of the Audio Room at Lismore, a specialist turntable and vinyl LP shop, Nick Brodsky, the decline of the CD can't come soon enough.

He was there at the Australian launch of CD format at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney in 1979 but never believed the technology would last.

"They were pitched as the perfect medium, indestructible and forever, but of course we now know this is not true," Mr Brodsky said.

"CDs are just a digital approximation of music, vinyl is the natural medium."

Mr Barovsky is even less fond of music downloads.

"The sound quality of downloads is worse than CDs and CD sound quality is worse than vinyl."

Not only does Mr Barovsky welcome the decline of CDs, he is predicting a boom in the sale of vinyl records and turntables.

Over Christmas 2009 he sold five turntables and over the same period in 2010 he sold 10 turntables, the most valuable of which was $12,000.

"More young bands are releasing music on vinyl and 60% of my customers are under 25 years old," he said.

Clint Elder, owner of All Music and Vision at Ballina and Lismore believes the whispers of the CD decline are just well-timed rumours.

"It would suit internet music providers.

"They have a vested interest in the demise of the CD because it would leave them as the only outlet for music," he said.

"Sixty to 70% of music sales are still physical sales.

"Not everyone wants to have a low-quality MP3."

He sees a shake-out of music retailers coming, leaving music fans with a group of dedicated specialist music shops that can get everything for their customers, including CDs, DVDs and vinyl.

"Instead of paying $1.80 or $1.90 per track for an album I would rather buy the real thing for $20 and have the whole thing to use any way I want," he said.

"Internet shopping is a wonderful concept but there is nothing like local service and buying the physical object."

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