back to article Compact Disc death foretold for 2012

The major record labels are planning to kill off the CD format by the end of next year to make way for digital downloads only. That's the claim made by music site Side-Line which says it heard whispers that the end of the CD is nigh from music industry insiders. That said, it has failed to get any official confirmation from …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Then I won't be buying...

    As I have never purchased digital music, nor do I want to.

    I want the CD, and I will rip it in the format and quality that I want...

    Digital download music sounds shit, just like streamed movies look shit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I have never purchased digital music, nor do I want to...."

      "..I want the CD, and I will rip it in the format and quality that I want."

      Those analogue CDs, eh? Good times.

    2. smudge Silver badge


      CDs ARE digital music. Just at a higher bitrate than most downloads.

    3. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Hear hear

      Don't get me wrong; I think it's good that the music business has finally woken up to the fact that a lot of people just want to click "buy" on their iPod and buy a digital download, and that they now allow it instead of forcing people to torrents.

      However, I don't think I'll be paying for any digital downloads, thanks. There are those who like the hassle, especially trying to play their tunes after re-installing their PC from a backup and being told that they are not authorised. I'll stick to CDs.

      If the labels kill CDs and force me to download, then maybe I might, but I certainly won't pay for crippled downloads, so would probably download without paying. (If you don't sell what people want to buy, they won't buy it)

      1. Mike Dimmick

        No DRM here

        "There are those who like the hassle, especially trying to play their tunes after re-installing their PC from a backup and being told that they are not authorised."

        Are there any music stores left that use DRM? Amazon and iTunes now just include a tracking ID in the metadata, linked to the purchaser's account on their system, so it's possible to track a leaked file to who leaked it. The music is completely unencrypted, though, so will play on anything (that's licenced for the format) and no matter how many copies have been made.

        1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

          @Mike Dimmick

          "Are there any music stores left that use DRM? Amazon and iTunes now just include a tracking ID in the metadata, linked to the purchaser's account on their system, so it's possible to track a leaked file to who leaked it. The music is completely unencrypted, though, so will play on anything (that's licenced for the format) and no matter how many copies have been made."

          My wife buys her music from iTunes. It won't play on the digital TV, nor on the digital set-top in the other room, nor the MP3 player in the office (although it plays fine on her iPod and her Mac). When transfering her iTunes from her old computer to her new one, it moaned like hell and she had to talk to Apple help to get it sorted because it had been authorised too many times, and she couldn't play any of the recent stuff anymore (and in fact even lost it off her iPod).

          Meanwhile, I keep taking CDs off the shelf and playing them in various HiFis and the car, no problems. Also the CDs I've ripped play on everything, including her Mac and iPod. Oh and I also have a lot of CDs (even from this year/last year) that don't appear on iTunes / Amazon / MS database of CDs.

    4. Magnus_Pym

      Maybe that's why they don't want to sell them any more.

      They have finally realised, after years of being told by everybody else, that downloads are good for the industry. Physical formats can be easily converted/updated and profit is diverted to manufacturers, distributors and retailers. They can make more money out of cheap digital downloads because they can sell them over and over again without ever losing control of the product and the distribution channel is dirt cheap.

    5. as2003


      Give it five years, and you'll be eating your words. Fact.

      a) You can already buy music in FLAC format. i.e. Lossless.

      b) It's infinitely more convenient to download music onto a device than it is to got to a shop or order the physical media online.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        More convenient to buy

        But fucking tricky to play in the car (my primary listening environment) unless you burn it to disc (laborious and the end result sounds crap!) or fiddle about trying to hook up your phone/mp3 player (which still sounds crap, and potentially kills you whenever you try to change tracks)!

        Of course this report IS just bullshit: there's still plenty of profit left in the old silvers discs for a while yet...

        1. David Cantrell

          I bet it doesn't sound crap - or at least, no crapper than a CD. You can't hear the difference when you take into account engine noise, road noise, and the fact that you're not concentrating on the music.

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge


          Your car radio doesn't have an SD slot?

      2. Trollslayer Silver badge


        FLAC has variable quality settigns so you cannot assum this.

        If there is a guaranteed lossless format with mild DRM then I'm interested.

        1. David Robinson 1


          FLAC doesn't have variable quality settings. It does have a variable compression setting, as in how tightly it'll try to pack in the bits not audio compression.

        2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          Re: Lossless?

          Guess what the L in FLAC stands for.

          1. General Ned Ludd


        3. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          [FLAC] Lossless? Yes.

          The hint is in the acronym--'L' for .. (you guessed it) "Lossless".

          The flac program has variable setting for how hard it should try to compress the file. It is not a "quality" setting.

          Wavpack, on the other hand, does have a hybrid lossy/lossless mode, so seeing a .wv file doesn't necessarily mean lossless there--you'd need the corresponding "correction" file (.wvc) to get back the original file losslessly if hybrid mode was used. I'm a big fan of flac, but wavpack's hybrid mode could make it quite attractive to music vendors since they'd only have to create one master set of lossy/lossless (.wv/.wvc) files for each track and then sell each separately. It would also make it very suitable for mobile players, since you probably don't need the full lossless file for those devices and space is at a premium. Having the data split into lossy/lossless parts also makes it a lot easier for syncing since you don't need to do any transcoding--just copy the smaller .wv file across (assuming your device supports wavpack, of course).

          Oh, and "mild DRM"? You're having a laugh there, right?

        4. xlq

          FLAC is still lossless.

          FLAC encoders have an adjustable speed/compression ratio trade-off. It's still lossless at whichever setting you choose.

          1. P Saunders

            So what is the record

            For replies to a single post?

      3. Jared Hunt

        re: sigh

        a) Searching for and buying music using the Amazon 1 click buy button is just as convenient as any download store I've ever used IMHO.

        b) People still like to have physical media when they've paid money for it. You can't put a downoad on display on a shelf and a hard copy is always more secure / robust than a download. Ok, it might not be the mainstream for much longer but CDs aren't going anywhere for a long time. FACT*

        * the kind of fact I just made up to try and add emphasis

      4. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

        So where can you buy FLAC downloads from ? I thought everyone just sold MP3s ?

        1. AdamWill


          The only major site that sells lossless downloads, AFAIK, is iTunes, and it seems impossible to tell from their site which tracks are actually available in lossless format. And it sells ALAC, not FLAC. And it's iTunes, which means it's hermetically sealed and you can't run it on Linux. So yeah, please back up the assertion that you can just buy lossless, because I've never found anywhere I really can, which is why I don't buy downloads.

      5. bazza Silver badge

        @as2003 It is convenient only if... have a broadband connection. A considerable number of people who buy music on CD don't have broadband.

        I'm fairly sure that current CD sales will not translate into the same number of digital downloads. The CD market might not be dominant, but it is still money worth having if you're in the music business. Though I can see them becoming something you can get only by mail order.

      6. Mark 65 Silver badge


        Would you mind quote where you can buy FLAC music from rather than just state it can i.e. photo or it didn't happen? I'd like to see how broad the offering is.

        1. Ian Yates


          Only one I know of. But don't expect many.

          1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

            where to buy FLAC

            For the few people who asked this question (and couldn't be bothered to do a web search themselves):


            This isn't a complete list. There are quite a few independent labels and some bands (groups) that offer flac downloads. You'd have to go to their websites to check for yourself. There seems to be a lot more electronic artists whose catalogue is available in Flac format as compared with more mainstream/pop artists. Check out for a pretty decent selection in this genre. FLAC costs more than MP3, but that's totally understandable.

            1. AdamWill


              yeah, I don't want a wiki page to research ten different tiny stores, none of which stock any of the bands I listen to anyway. I want a single store which sells everything, because that's what record stores do. if I have to surf around ten different sites every time a new album comes out and only have a small chance of finding it anyway, why the hell would I bother doing that instead of just going to a record store? how well did ebooks sell when they had that kind of model, before Amazon and Sony and Apple came along and did it right? hint: not very fucking well.

          2. AdamWill

            yeah, I did say "major"

            Yeah, I did say "major". I want to be able to buy any new release that comes out, not just the four 'independent artists' I've never heard of who happen to be signed to your tiny boutique download site.

        2. Minophis

          @Mark 65

          You can buy FLAC from Magnatune as well as VBR MP3, AAC and OGG.

          They may not have mainstream artists but it is still mostly very good stuff.

          They also allow unlimited free streaming and flexible prices.

      7. JEDIDIAH

        No proof of purchase.

        Without some sort of physical token of ownership, you don't really have any means to prove that you have any right to a particular digital file. Even without DRM, you still have the problem of "proving that it's yours". Screeching fanboys that like to paint anything not purchased from Apple as piracy are a great example of this problem.

        You buy it from Amazon, then how do you prove it when someone tries to say otherwise?

      8. Jim 59

        Computers = good but complex

        The world often assumes someting is easier becuase it involves a computer. Compare 2 music purchases:

        Suppose you bought a Cilla Black LP in 1973. Total effort involved: You walked to Woolworths and spent 10 minutes buyung the LP. Every couple of years you clean it with an anti-static cloth.

        Suppose you bought a Stone Roses CD online in 2003. Total effort involved: you spent 20 minutes buying the music online including PC boot up time. After it arrived in the post, you spent half an hour ripping it onto your PC. Every week you spend 45 minutes backing up the ripped music along with all your other data. In 2008 you realised the bitrate was too low and you spent 2 hours reseraching psychoacoustics and re-ripping your CDs at a higher VBR bit rate. In 2010 you got a new NAS and spent several hours transferring over the Stone Roses along with all your other data. In 2011 you realised the music was in an out of date format so you spent several hours transcoding your whole music library. And this is without DRM.

        Now to listen to the Stone Roses you have to boot up your digital telly and associated ecosystems, make sure your network is fired up, boot up the streaming server in your attic, fiddle with a interactive menu for 2 minutes before retiring to an armchair only to discover you have the wrong remote control.

        In 2016 mp3 and other compressed formats died when disks became big enough to render them obsolete. You spent 5 hours re-ripping your whole CD collection in lossless FLAC.

        In 2020 you bought a new PC, formats and technology changed again and you had to re-rip/transcode again, before uploading the music to your cloud locker. 7 hours.

        By 2025, loudspeakers had become so small that artists (who are mostly amaters because illegal downloading killed professional music) don't even bother to add any base line to the music at all. You scoop your whole digital ecosystem into a skip, fire up your old 1974 hi-fi with the 15" woofers, locate your CDs and get the ****ing Led out. Ahh that's better.

        1. JEDIDIAH

          Some people just make simple things hard.

          ...or you just spent a few minutes to rip a CD when you bought it. It might have been in the 90s or it could be in the oughts. The only real difference is how long you had to wait for the ripper to finish before you could play your music. You still spent a whole 5 minutes on the process.

          Backups just happen.You automate something that sorts you out in general and backups of your music are "free". Any time you manually copy your music to some device (like your phone), that is yet another backup with a marginal cost of zero.

          You don't futz with stuff because you realize that if one ancient format (like vinyl) is good enough than you don't have to constantly move between less ancient formats.

          It helps to only use what seems suitable to begin with.

          Although video is an entirely different kettle of fish...

    6. hitmouse

      So you don't buy uncompressed

      I buy from sites that offer uncompressed music downloads, often even adding studio-quality mastered versions.

      Please explain how these are shit compared to exactly equivalent material that happens to be stored on a silver platter.

    7. N13L5

      I don't buy downloads either

      But I think this 'news item' is bogus...

      There are way, way too many people who listen to music, who don't even use computers!

      Sure, maybe that's mostly older folks 40 and up, but there's still enough of them alive, it would be absolutely retarded not to offer their music on CD's anymore.

      Maybe they'll stop offering that god-awful top 40 crap on CD, which would be completely shrugged off by my aunts, uncles and grandparents...

      But if they couldn't buy their Jazz, Classic Rock and Classical music in a store anymore, they'd be annoyed. They're also 'computer resistant' I was never able to convince them to bother, not even with the promise of free phone calls through skype.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    I play CD's in the car. Even some new cars aren't coming with USB ports that can take music devices. until more car manufacturers fit this, I can understand teh CD continuing on.

    Also, some segments of the older generation haven't (for one reason or another) got to grips with digital downloads; a report said that there is a good section of the population that doesn't want to get on line. For these people, CD will still likely be a primary method to consume music.

    The music industry would be alienating a not inconsiderable portion of the population if they did kill off the CD.

    1. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Also a fail

      My old and expensive hi-fi, my expensive car, neither will be updated this year, next, or probably the next 10 (for the record main car is already 8, eldest is 51, other cars in the middle, most are 'main cars' kept). On average I dont' bother replacing a main car with another main car until it is at least 20. Frankly theres no point.

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      You don't need a USB port, just a 3.5mm audio in socket. Even my car has one of those.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: 3.5mm audio socket

        "Even my car has one of those."

        But neither of my cars (2005 and 2007) do. A bit daft on the part of the manufacturers if you ask me, but there must be a lot of cars on the road that can only play CDs. (And that's the original CD spec, not a disc full of mp3 files.)

        Perhaps the real plan is that only the music aimed at people under 20 will be download only and the old farts have nothing to fear. It seems hard to believe that an industry under pressure would willingly cut off precisely that part of the market that *isn't* pirating them into oblivion. But then, this *is* the music industry we're talking about.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Music for young people

          My 14 year old daughter buys CDs infact her most recent puchases are red book CD not these stupid not play in all devices and exchange until you wipe out the stock in the shop as faulty (been there done that).

          Perhaps it is her preference for indy rock and Florences.

    3. Chad H.

      Get with the times man... Get with the times

      Buy device that connects to MP3 player and broadcasts it over FM.

      Retune to devices FM frequency

      Job done.

      1. SteveK

        You forgot one step:

        Stop every 20 minutes or so to retune FM transmitter to a frequency that isn't being used now you've driven over a hill and now have fuzzy echoes of a distant station intermittently blocking out your signal.

        Tried using one of these in Italy once, couldn't find a single free channel that worked for more than 5 minutes, and this transmitter worked across the whole range from 88 to 108MHz in 0.1MHz (or maybe 0.05?) increments, not one of the common ones that just have 4 presets.


      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        defeating points

        So we're going to have a bitchfest fighting for buying download of our music at nice bitrates, just to throw it all away through FM encoding? I suppose you'll be suggesting using audiocasette<->3.5mm-TRS-plug adapters next then?

        1. Chad H.


          This user doesn't appear to be bothered by the quality - just the inability to use downloads in the car.

          Fm is more than good enough for those of us who have better things to spend it on than crazy sub wofters*

          * yes I know its spelled wrong - its a BOFHism.

          1. LuMan

            In-Car Options

            Some good points about in-car options, but remember that metal boxes aren't that good for listening to music in anyway, so quality can take a back seat (hah). Anyhoo, FWIW, I have a 6CD multi-changer thing in the boot and a cassette deck on the dash (yep, and it's a 53 plate!). I got one of those magic cassettes with a jack-plug on it and use my MP3/phone/walkman* to listen to whatever I want.

            Of course, the biggest problem is trying to hear the fugging thing when some twat in a 'hot hatch' pulls up next to me at the lights, gunning the bejeezuz out of his crappy 1.4 engine and vibrating my poor little Xsara to death with shitty drum and base!

            *The MD Walkman - not the cassette one. That would be just plain daft!

          2. MJI Silver badge

            Loud <> quality

            Some of us want quality not absolute volume.

            My car system is not great (12 y/o MD head unit, CD changer, amp, Infinty speakers) but is better than standard and will let you enjoy the music.

  3. Jim 59

    "The only CDs that will go on sale through 2013 and beyond will be special editions and albums from the biggest artists."

    So what are you saying ?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Britney Spears


  4. MrCheese


    "HMV, for one, has said its future lies in selling hardware and music merchadise as packaged media - CDs, books, DVDs and games - is slowly replaced by downloads."

    HMV perfectly demonstrates WHY we're all going download only (and why piracy exists for that matter); their astronomical mark-ups on everything are a frankly insulting extortion of their de-facto market dominance.

    HMV are one of the few high street music chains who deserve to go down, if they set fairer prices they might just see a bit more business but try telling that to a capitalist these days...

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Their mark-ups aren't as astronomical, insulting or extortionate as the mark-ups on the digital downloads -- and once again the actual performer gets shafted.

    2. Andy Fletcher

      HMV overpriced?

      Yes that's true. Going out of business? That's true too. So basically, it would appear no-one is falling for it, and they are essentially screwing themselves. They have a right to do that if it floats their boat.

      And what's up with all the ludditry in response to this story? Physical media is dead. Not having realised that ain't going to change it.

    3. Munchausen By Taxi

      HMV - and high street music sellers in general.

      20 years ago, if you walked into a major city centre HMV, the range of CDs was massive. I could always walk in, spend a couple of hours flicking through and usually find several CDs that fit my (somewhat dubious) musical tastes. I very often would blow 100 quid in one go and was happy to do so. Today, my major city-centre HMV (I won't say who) has the front-half full of cut price stuff (mostly mainstream movies and CDs (...if I wanted the Lady Gaga backcatalogue, I'd have bought it already)). The main CD selection has collapsed to a couple of rows right at the back, squished between computer games, teeshirts and mp3 player accessories. In trying to be all things to all people, it ceased to be an exciting place to go hunting for music and just ended up as a rather soulless high street vendor. why I tend to buy CDs online these days. HMV destroyed itself in a glut of ill thought out diversified marketing initiatives instead of sticking to what it was good at.


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