Image courtesy of Gaanpagla.

UNITED STATES—Rewind time to nearly 15 years ago.  The music CD was one of the hottest commodities out there.  When a new record hit stores avid fans would be the first in line to get their hands on the popular record, those were the good ole days.  In the current era, the CD is slowly diminishing to becoming non-existent.  Yes, artists do continue to release records, but how often do you see someone at the record store purchase a CD.

There are some artists who are able to create massive buzz for their new album through hit songs and strategic marketing.  Taylor Swift has proved to be a powerhouse with her last two albums both selling more than a million copies in their first week in stores.  Rapper Lil’ Wayne and Lady Gaga have also achieved similar feats.  Last year’s breakout star Adele spent countless weeks in the Billboard charts with her groundbreaking album “21,” but all of those artists are rare gems in an industry with so much talent all vying for the same thing: notoriety.

The biggest threat to the sales of CD’s is one thing: the Internet.  The ability to steal music online has increased in popularity over the years.  Is it the fact that people can get something for free?  For some yes, but I’m inclined to say there is more than getting free music.  It’s about quality in records.  Who wants to spend $15 for a CD that contains only 3-4 songs that you like from a track listing of 20 songs.  The listener would’ve saved much more just by going to iTunes to purchase the songs of their choice for about $1.29 each.

Record labels are well aware of the popularity of a hit single; if an artist records a massive hit, tons of money can be made from that one record alone. The unfortunate side effect of that popular single is that many artists are unable to duplicate that success.  They became what we call a “one hit wonder” and they are remembered by society as that artist who did “that song.”  Is it possible their record contained more hits, absolutely, but we never get the opportunity to hear it?

Musicians and labels have to be more strategic when releasing an album.  The first single has to be a song that will be popular with the audience, but moving from that first single the second record has to be just as popular or continue to attempt to tell the story from the previous track.  Successful artists duplicate success by diversifying their music to appeal to a massive audience.  I never used to be a country fan, but artists like Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift have just a touch of pop crossover appeal that makes their music universal to all audiences.

The reason this piece is so important to me is that I have a feeling within the next 15-20 years the music CD as we know it will cease to exist.  Technology is becoming so advanced that people find it “convenient” to have all their music stored on one device.  There’s a problem with that ideology; that device can only hold so much space.  So as time moves along you begin to delete records or songs that you no longer listen to on a daily basis.  I’ll be the first to admit it; anything that I have purchased on iTunes will only be in my music library.  I’m not getting rid of it because I paid hard earned money for it, but I love iTunes because I’m not forced to spend $15 bucks on an album that contains two to three good songs.  In a tough economy, every single dollar matters.

This is a message to the artist and record labels, focus on creating an album that music lovers nationwide will want to listen to from start to finish without skipping tracks.  There is nothing like putting on a CD and playing it from start to finish without skipping over tracks that aren’t your favorites.  As long as I’ve been listening to music, there have been  perhaps three, maybe four albums where I can say that to be true, and my friend that is not a good thing.  Will the CD cease to exist in 20 years, in my honest opinion I do believe so, but that can change, there is nothing like placing a CD into your car or stereo; it takes you to another place, one where all your worries no longer matter.

By LaDale Anderson