Could This Gadget Spell the End of the CD?; MUSIC OF THE MILLENNIUM: GIANT MERGER CREATES REVOLUTIONARY NEW MARKET FOR COMPUTER DISCS

By Collier, Andrew | Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), January 27, 2000 | Go to article overview

Could This Gadget Spell the End of the CD?; MUSIC OF THE MILLENNIUM: GIANT MERGER CREATES REVOLUTIONARY NEW MARKET FOR COMPUTER DISCS


Collier, Andrew, Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)


YOU'LL never buy another Spice Girls CD again. And it's not just a matter of taste - Robbie Williams, the Beatles and other music greats will probably suffer the same fate.

Technology has over taken the medium and soon the CD will go the way of the vinyl record.

Music will be downloaded from the Internet, doing away with any need for CDs.

Time-Warner - whose recent merger with EMI created the world's biggest entertainment company - has announced a link-up with the Internet company America On-Line and analysts believe we will soon be ordering, paying for and listening to music while sitting at computer screens.

So after only 17 years on sale, are we witnessing the death of the CD?

Here we answer the key questions on how we will listen to music in the future.

Q WHEN and why were CDs first invented?

A They entered the consumer market at the start of the Eighties as a replacement for cassettes and the bulkier, more fragile vinyl discs. They became popular because of their relatively small size, their convenience, and the fact that as they were read by a laser beam rather than being physically touched by a stylus or playback head, they didn't wear out.

Q HOW quickly did the public catch on to them?

A Very quickly indeed. The technical standard for CDs was agreed between their inventors, Philips and Sony, in 1981 and the first player hit the market in 1983. By 1986, more than a million CD players a year were being sold, making them the fastest growing domestic consumer product ever introduced. They now account for the vast majority of all music sales.

IF they're as popular as that, why are they now under threat?

A Because technology has moved on and they're starting to look old-fashioned. Mini-discs, for instance, are much smaller yet can hold the same amount of information, though they've not really taken off yet as a medium for buying pre-recorded music. They're really substitutes for cassettes for home recording purposes.

Q BUT the real threat to CDs isn't from mini-discs, is it?

A No - it's from the Internet. In future, we won't be buying CDs at all. Instead we'll simply be downloading music files onto our computers and then transferring these files onto special portable players like Walkmans which we can walk around with.

Q SOUNDS complicated. Won't it be easier just to stick with the old-fashioned compact disc?

A Let's get one thing clear right now - CD players are going to be around for a long time yet. Hundreds of millions of compact discs have been bought over the last 15 years or so and they're not all suddenly going to become obsolete tomorrow. But in future, most of the new singles and albums we'll buy will be purchased over the Internet. And no, it's not very complex at all. You simply download the album you're looking for from a web site and then either play it, or copy it, across to a portable player. It takes a lot less time than going to your local music store to buy the CD.

Q BUT how do you pay for it?

A Usually, by credit card. In a secure transaction, you tap in the details of your credit card number on the web site involved, and then download the file. It's as simple as that.

Q ARE any major artists yet selling their material in this way? …

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