The End of CDs

Mar 6, 2018

From old 78s and 45s on vinyl to 8 track tapes and cassettes, our methods of listening to music have undergone a number of significant evolutions in the last century. Most recently, the music industry has seen a major decline in CD sales as digital downloads and streaming services continue to dominate our music consumption. Best Buy and Target both recently announced that they plan to stop selling CDs in their stores.

But despite the increasing role of digitized music and the dwindling market for CDs, the demand for vinyl has seen a surprising resurgence.

On this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Dennis Reese, CD collector and Midday host on Iowa Public Radio, Nate Niceswanger, owner of ZZZ records in Des Moines, Luke Tweedy, owner of Flat Black Studios in Lone Tree, and Tony Dehner, host of IPR’s Studio One Tracks, about the possible end of compact discs and why vinyl is making a comeback. Anna Gebhardt of the Des Moines-based music project Annalibera also joins the conversation.

Reese has been an audiophile since the days of 45s and even remembers listening to 78s on an old Victrola. He says that CDs were completely revolutionary after the poor sound quality of tape cassettes and still maintains his personal collection of over a thousand CDs.

"I remember 1984 because at Iowa Public Radio in the Iowa City stations we had the first CDs come in. It was great to just get rid of albums-- albums get dusty and the covers wear out and if you're on the air you have to stand there and make sure they don't skip," Reese says. "CDs were a huge deal."

In Tweedy's experience as the former manager of  Record Collector in Iowa City, the big shift away from CDs began when the iPod was first released. Niceswanger hasn't featured CDs in his store since 2007. At that time, 50% of his sales were CDs. Now, over 90% of his sales are vinyl.