Death of the CD Single?

May 19, 2008

by — Posted in Family and Friends, Technology

A friend and I had a discussion about old technology disappearing and what gets lost in the migration.   He put forth of the example of the CD single.   I stated that the CD single was still around, he stated that it had completely disappeared.   We were both right and wrong.

He wanted to take me up to the challenge on if they still existed.   My problem is that I chose the wrong store.   We were at the mall following this discussion and went into a Fye Store.   After browsing (and I had almost forgotten about the previous discussion) my friend asked the sales lady if they had any CD singles.   She stated they were no longer made since the Internet destroyed that market.   I pointed out some recent bands that released singles and she just kind of shrugged and wandered away.

Score one for him.

What I should have done is gone to the record exchange which deals more in specialized markets and not bulk selling fluff.    I’ll concede greatly that the CD single is no longer a mass purchased item (I never purchased one in my life since singles back in the day were half the cost of a full CD).  I won’t concede that they are disappearing just yet.   I have argued with others before that media will all become digitally distributed.   Physical media will disappear as the main stream item and move into the arena of niche collectors.  Digital media will become the de facto standard once broadband is ubiquitous across the nation.

The problem with the previous statement is that we currently live in a society that has niche collectors and broadband is not ubiquitous.  The people in middle america that has last mile broadband issues do not buy their music on itunes any more then they stream their video on hulu.  If I’m a huge Weezer fan, I want that b-side track.   These things will drive the single market steadily for at leas the next few years.

Searching Amazon there are a ton of CD singles announced and not yet released.   This covers those markets, granted it’s more for the specialized collectors at that point over the itunes barrier, but plenty of people will still purchase them at their local store.  I do wonder if the price has dropped though?

CD singles won’t exist forever, but I’m fairly positive they will hang on as long as CD’s do.   The question is which will disappear first, the compact disc or the modem?  That is an interesting technological discussion.  If you ask me though, I think the compact disc will die first.

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