iTunes Killed the CD Store Star Essay

Submitted By cmullin
Words: 1861
Pages: 8

Colleen Mullin
Professor Brock-Cancellieri
40392 - ENG 101 - 53
4 Dec. 2013 iTunes Killed The CD Store Star:
Why Physical Music Needs to Make a Comeback In a world where music is available for purchase at the click of a button online, it is hard to imagine why anyone would prefer to drive all the way out to their local record store or mass retailer to buy a physical copy of an album or single- Why waste all that time on something that you are just going to download onto your computer anyway? When looking at the argument this way, it is tempting to pick a digital MP3 download over the CD, vinyl record, or cassette tape that you passed by in that record store earlier, but take a closer look and it will become obvious that physical music is the better choice. The quality of the music, the buying experience, and the ability of the songs purchased to accurately and effectively covey the ideas and/or emotions they were meant to makes physical music the sure frontrunner. In spite of this, with the inevitable rise of the digital age, buyers are forgetting their physically formatted roots. The recent surge in digital music sales is not only causing problems for the popularity of physical music, but is also undermining the overall experience of music consumers everywhere. For example, the most obvious disadvantage of digital music is its inferior quality of sound. By definition, the MP3 format, which stands for MPEG Audio Layer-3, is basically designed to decrease the sound quality. MP3 is actually a compression algorithm that was created to take audio files, delete any sounds that are supposedly “too quiet” for human ears to hear, and condense what is left of the file to about 1/10 of its original size (Brian). Subsequently, some of the quality of the song being compressed is lost and the resulting file does not sound the same as the original. In 2011, rock legend Neil Young spoke out in an interview with MTV News about this absurdity with pointed comments aimed towards his fellow musicians saying, “If you’re an artist and you created something and you knew the master was 100 percent great, but the consumer got 5 percent, would you be feeling good?” (qtd. in Hachman). He then went on to say, “The convenience of the digital age has forced people to choose between quality and convenience” (qtd. in Hachman). Some people, especially the young children and teens who have grown up in this digital age, may argue that the supposed nuisance caused by having to go out of the way to buy physical music as well as the fact that you are stuck carrying around cases full of CDs, records, and cassettes everywhere you go is too much of a hassle to put up with on a daily basis. However, I would like to think that the superior sound quality provided by physical music is worth more than the extra convenience of a lighter-weight, more portable MP3 player. It may take more effort to run out to the store and buy a material copy of an album, but with better, uncompressed and unaltered sounds, it is definitely worth the drive. As a matter of fact, for some people, the drive to the store is part of the appeal of physical music; the experiences of looking at, feeling, and buying the music are just as much a part of it as the sound of the music itself (Christman 15). Maybe it is the nostalgia that seems to linger in the shelves of old record stores, but there is something incredibly fulfilling and almost magical about searching up and down the aisles and looking for that one special album that downloading a song from a digital music store like iTunes just cannot compete with. This also allows buyers to discover new artists they may have otherwise overlooked. Whether it is an unexpected find while rummaging through displays full of a variety of genres and artists, or a breakthrough made after a particularly good staff recommendation, there are plenty of opportunities for in-store shoppers to uncover dozens of hidden gems of musical genius that they may not