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The End of the CD

Music, Movies, TV Shows860 words5 minutes to read

Todd Dominey and I have been doing the same things recently — ripping our CD collections to MP3 and ditching the physical albums.

I began ditching CD’s for MP3’s back in the [Real] Napster heyday. Back in 1999, I could see it all coming together — I could have all of my music on my computer, burn my own custom CD’s, and not have to carry around jewel cases or CD binders. I liked CD binders because they were nowhere near as bulky as jewel cases and I could organize my music better, but my CD’s always ended up getting scratched to heck.

So, I bought my first new computer (as opposed to using hand-me-down computers), downloaded Winamp and Napster 2.0b5, and in a matter of about a year or so, had filled up the entire 3GB’s on my hard drive. Windows actually told me that it didn’t have enough space to complete the download of a 3 minute song. I had 1.2 MB available on my drive. Whoops!

By the time I bought my first 15GB iPod, I had a whopping 7GB of music. I listened to music on my computer, but i still listened to my CD’s more — mostly because I didn’t feel like taking the time to rip my 250 CD’s to MP3. However, having an iPod radically changed my music habits. I could carry my entire music collection with me in an elegant, white, palm-sized device? Having MP3’s no longer meant that I was stuck sitting in front of my computer in order to listen to them. Well, from there it was all downhill.

I started ripping more and more of my CD’s to MP3. I borrowed friend’s collections and started ripping CD’s as well — mostly CD’s that I’d purchased previously, but were now all scratched up. Technically I already have a license for the music that I already purchased, right? It’s not my fault CD’s aren’t all that durable. Anyways, in 2 months, I’d doubled my music collection and maxed out the capacity on my iPod. Not long after that, my wife surprised me with a 17" Powerbook G4, and since that had more capacity, I decided to move my music collection over to my Powerbook. From there, I was free to get more and more music. I hit up all the Kazaa’s, WinMX’s, Limewire’s, and IRC’s of the world to find new music… and it was great! Mostly, I had gotten tired of the radio with all of the repetition of songs, and knowing that there was lots and lots of great music out there that wasn’t getting airplay.

I found some good chatrooms on IRC where I could get some compilation/sampler CD’s that had really good Alternative/Rock from bands that I’d never heard of before. One of those bands has become a new favorite — Motion City Soundtrack — with the song “The future freaks me out”. Maybe you’ve heard it?

I’m on fire
And now I think I’m ready
To bust a move
Check it out, I’m rockin’ steady — go!\

I would never have found out about them if I’d stuck to the “legal”, RIAA way of doing things, but because of that, I’ve purchased both of their albums online.

So anyway, over the last 18 months-ish, my post-iPod music collection has gone from 7GB to 36.31 GB, as opposed to my pre-iPod collection that took nearly 5 years to grow to 7GB.

Now, back to my original point, I spent the weekend finally going through all of my old CD’s, and ripping whatever could be salvaged from scratched-to-heck-ness. I made sure to download the album art for everything, so I’m really not missing anything but the liner notes. But even then, what do the liner notes typically consist of? Lyrics, band member names, and thank you’s. You can get lyrics and band member names online. And thank you’s? I mean, really, who cares? And if you do care, then keep the liner notes for that album.

Which gets me to my last point. I don’t normally advertise or recommend anything unless I think it’s really good. This is one of those times. Check out Last.fm. It has plugins for a number of music players (including iTunes and Winamp), that will upload the tracks you listen to into their system. From there, they can also find your “musical neighbors”, so you can see what people who listen to similar music to you are listening to. This can help you find new music that may or may not be playing on the RIAA-strangled radio. You can also create your own custom radio station that streams CD-quality music to the last.fm player. My wife and I were cleaning our apartment last weekend, and I had my custom radio station streaming to my stereo (via Airport Express and NiceCast), and we both commented that it was like the perfect radio station that only played good songs and didn’t have any commercials.

So now, I open it up to you. What are your musical habits like? How much do you listen to music? What kind of music is on your iPod/iTunes/whatever these days?

Ryan Parman

is an engineering manager with over 20 years of experience across software development, site reliability engineering, and security. He is the creator of SimplePie and AWS SDK for PHP, patented multifactor-authentication-as-a-service at WePay, defined much of the CI/CD and SRE disciplines at McGraw-Hill Education, and came up with the idea of “serverless, event-driven, responsive functions in the cloud” while at Amazon Web Services in 2010. Ryan's aptly-named blog, , is where he writes about ideas longer than . Ambivert. Curious. Not a coffee drinker.