music technology


Dad and Butler brought up my CD collection when they moved me into Rick’s place. I packed them up before I went to Yemen and haven’t seen them since. It’s amazing how much space 400+ CDs take up! I’m in the process of ripping them to my computer where they will take up considerably less space. Don’t know what I’ll do with them afterwards, do people still buy used CDs?

The box I’m working on now has part of my classical collection with some jazz thrown in. I’m struck at the number of discs I got through services like the BBC magazine and the Musical Heritage Society. Before them it was BMG and some other CD service. Before that I was a member of the RCA club for cassettes. You remember those clubs right? They send you 12 or 13 albums for a penny and you only have to agree to buy… what was it, 10? more CDs in the next year. Of course b y default they would send you one a month unless you sent in the paperwork on time. Each time you bought something at full price (17.99 if I remember correctly) they would give you a certificate to buy the next one at half price.

I tried to remember to send in the “do not send me the selection of the month” letter every time for the popular music clubs. I’d screw up from time to time of course and I’d get something or other that I didn’t want. I think the only time that ever worked out was the time I got Pat Benetar’s “Live From Earth” cassette. That was pretty good, at least 13 year old me thought so…

I went ahead and got the selections of the month with the classical clubs mostly because I wanted to hear a lot of different things. The BBC Music magazine was supposedly a cornucopia of classical music information, but I really only ever cared about the CDs that came with it every month. I got some stuff that I never would have thought of getting that way. I never would have dived into early music otherwise. Of course, I also wouldn’t have gotten any of the early English operas either, anyone want a copy of “Alfred?”

We’ve come so far in such a short period of time. Convenience is king nowadays. It is trivially easy to find and download almost anything you want. The world of popular music is your oyster with new streaming services like Spotify MOG. Classical and jazz folks still have to buy their stuff mostly, but it is out there. The streaming and downloading options for popular music sound just fine with the compressed formats. The classical types have a variety of high res formats available to them too.

When the CD came out, we couldn’t believe how nice it was. There was no surface noise, no pops, no cracks and most people mistook the absence of defects for sound quality. CDs and CD players eventually got really good and we figured, “This is it, this is the ultimate audio medium.” Of course having no medium at all has proven to be far nicer, and at no penalty of sound quality. When I sold audio gear, I fantasized about having a 300 CD changer so I could have most of my music in my system at all times. These eventually came into being but they were always too clunky, slow, and prone to breaking down. Now I can stream 12 million songs whenever I want for 10 bucks a month, life is good!




I just googled BMG Music Service, just for old times sake. It’s hilarious. Towards the bottom, there is a pane that says BMG Music Service is what Columbia House Music was. Then the pane above that says that BMG Music Service is closed and is now Columbia House DVD service… Anyway, the deal isn’t too bad really, you have to get 12 CDs for a little under 50 bucks. That’s pretty cheap. I can’t imagine having to deal with the clutter of all of those CDs mind you. The selection is straight out of the 80’s. They boast of having over 14,000 albums to choose from! That was impressive back a ways, but nowadays with iTunes having 18 million songs, 14,000 is laughable. I can only imagine that it is filled with the blandest radio hits type of folks too. Good luck with that Columbia/BMG/Columbia!

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