Amazon AutoRip: Is There Any Point to Trying to Prolong the Life of the CD?

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So this one time, my college roommate was gonna buy this album. It came in two formats: CD and MP3. The CD version was a few bucks cheaper. I argued with my roommate that a CD was a better deal because you also got a physical copy of something, but he went for the MP3 download anyway because he didn't want to wait and didn't want more shit cluttering up his life.

That was my first thought when I heard Amazon's new AutoRip program. Now, if you buy specially marked compact discs from the Internet giant, you get the MP3 version instantly, for free. No waiting! But what's the fucking point?

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When that CD arrived, all you were gonna do was import it into your iTunes, look through the album art once or twice and then let it collect dust.

This is coming from me, someone who values physical copies of media so much that I rarely, if ever, buy just MP3s. I grew up within walking distance of a Zia Records and many a CVS paycheck was blown buying new and used albums. I valued those jewel cases like none other, and I pawed through the album leaflets often. Now, my massive collection of compact discs is shoved away in some dark corner of storage.

What happened?

I'm not sure. I still value being able to hold something in my hot little hands, especially books, yet I only recently graduated (or regressed) to vinyl last year. I like vinyl for two reasons: it is physical, meaning I didn't blow money on a bunch of 1s and 0s on my laptop and listening to an album is an experience again, a careful choice that must be tended to and really appreciated. Some people say it sounds better than MP3, but I'm kinda deaf and unable to tell the difference.

I think I must be old-fashioned because if I buy something, I want it to occupy a space in the physical universe, not just on my hard drive. But not CDs. I doubt I will ever buy a CD again. This makes this whole AutoRip nonsense pretty obsolete. Most vinyl records already come with a download code, courtesy of the record label, so Amazon really doesn't have incentive to add AutoRip to 180 gram copies of whatever.

Maybe the entire concept of wanting to "own" a chunk of music is wrong. Maybe it's borderline hoarding. But everyone seems to have their own way of consuming music, and like a Reese's cup, there's no wrong way to enjoy it. I just doubt Amazon's AutoRip will help boost CD sales.

If I were them, I would be focused on a decent streaming music site, like Pandora or the upcoming Daisy. That seems to be the universe we're headed to anyway -- a CD collection that everyone owns and takes up no space.

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