mrk.'s seventeen reasons to hate CD's (circa 1988)
"Common Knowledge" says that Compact Discs are perfect. CD's don't
skip or get stuck, and you can't damage them. This is a complete
fallacy. Compact Discs DO skip, they DO get stuck (It sounds worse
than a LP when they do!) and they do it fairly often. The reality is
that CD's have to be treated BETTER than LP's, because less dirt or
damage will affect the way the machine reads a Compact Disc. And
CD's actually have LOWER technical audio specs than LP's!
An infant technology
Where LP's are the end of a technology - you can't improve the
technology without jumping to another one (digital), CD's are the
infancy of a technology and many formats will come along that utilize
the wonders of digital storage far better than the Compact Disc, and
they will be far better, more useful products. This is a certainty.
Optical reading is flawed
Any time there is a system that must read its data 4, 6, 8 even
SIXTEEN or THIRTY-TWO times just to actually get it right and make it
sound continuous - there is a serious problem. The digital storage of
data, including music, is a fantastic and useful idea, but a system is
only as strong as its weakest link. It is idiotic to read that data
OPTICALLY!!! This is severely flawed technology - to the point of
making it unusable.
Corporate lies for profit
The record companies claim that they are phasing out LP's because
there is no longer any demand for them. This is completely incorrect.
There is lesser demand for LP's because the record companies are
making them more and more difficult, or impossible, to find. Despite
the fact that 85% of all US households have a turntable and only 20%
have a CD player and audio hardware companies are still making and
selling turntables. The majors are pulling LP's off the market
because it is far more financially lucrative, and logistically easer
to carry fewer configurations. Also, CD's are vastly, vastly more
profitable than LP's and one of the original ideas of the CD
revolution was to eliminate LP's to force consumers to replace their
Corporate conflicts of interest
It is mildly interesting that Time/Life owns WEA, the largest record
company. It is more than mildly interesting that Sony, a major
hardware manufacturer, owns CBS, the second largest. Sony invented
the Compact Disc (actually someone working for Sony did). On the
surface this would seem to be something of a conflict of interest.
Upon further examination it appears to be a SERIOUS conflict of
interest. It is a dangerous consolidation of power.
Pulling the art and credit from music
Compact Discs don't have full cover art, often don't have lyric sheets
and/or liner notes that were originally included. Aside from just
being annoying, this is also selling an incomplete piece of
(theoretically) artwork; it is considerably less than the artist
intended. Worst of all many CD's completely neglect to mention who
wrote the songs! More and more we find ourselves in an age where the
hand picked corporate pop stars don't write their own music (because
that much brain function might kill them), so that the people who are
actually being creative don't get any credit at all anymore. Since
many of the mainstream pop songs these days are purchased outright and
are owned by the record company, not even acknowledging that someone
wrote the song, could this very possibly be a first step in the
direction of stopping royalties to songwriters!
Profits for corporations, not artists
The profits that the record company executives are making on Compact
Discs are nothing short of obscene. This is a product that costs LESS
to manufacture, costs less to ship and costs less to store, but is
priced far, far higher than the vinyl: sometimes double the price.
The artists, and others actually involved with the creative process
don't see any of this money. It all goes to the record company
(mainly to the executives, who do nothing but sit on their asses!) the
distributors and the record stores (mostly chains).
Eliminating independtent labels
The two "major" and four "little major" record companies are very
consciously using CD's as an excuse for effectively eliminating
independent record companies from the market. These indies are the
ONLY labels that continue to sign interesting, progressive acts, acts
that actually sound different than everything else. The CD is being
used (unfairly, i suppose) to wipe out the only music on the market
with any sort of thought or innovation involved with it. The indies
are bucking the tide of greed and keeping creativity alive. The
majors hope that they will disappear with the LP.
The "CD revolution" has really stoked the fires of one of the most
obscene practices the record companies have ever engaged in: the
release of "Greatest Hits collections". These pathetic and disgusting
pieces of feces are fed to us under the guise of actually releasing
old music. This is another case where the record company is directly
deciding WHAT you will listen to and what you WON'T. These nauseating
collections eliminate 60 - 90 % of the actual music, while filling the
disc with the garbage that the record companies want you to hear; you
miss all the best music. Pete Townshend said, "...they've got you,
but most of all they've got me, because it's my career that's
suffering. Because the other 400 songs i've written don't ever get
heard. I can't deal with ... reductive demographic practices,
reducing my career down to eight songs..."
In five to ten years a new configuration will be pushing its way in to
dominate the market in the same, very pre-meditated way, that Compact
Discs are today; billed again as "the format to end all formats".
CD's will be virtually pushed out by this FAR SUPERIOR configuration;
they will be obsolete long before LP's are. This is not a coincidence
or an accident. The record companies knew going in that the CD format
had a life span of 10 years. That was part of their original purpose.
In 40 years teenagers will pick up an LP, laugh heartily and say "They
used to LISTEN to these!?!?" But give those same teenagers in 2030 a
CD and they will look puzzled and ask, "What was this thing used for?"
(In addition, rumor has it that each individual disc will only last
for 10 years. That could be an enormous disaster if the record
companies do manage to eliminate the alternitives!)
Compact Discs aren't just a new configuration -- they're a marketing
strategy. Although in a vague sort of way, CD's actually utilize
digital storage and retrieval of music, in no way are they a
technologically successful format. CD's will be obsolete by the late
90's. That's why they were rushed to the market and that's why they
are being pushed so very hard (and are so expensive). The discs, and
the boxes, were designed for consumption, not for use as an audio
medium. That stupid jewel box was designed to be sexy, temptingly
difficult to get into, and to present the product in a most elegant
way. Of course anyone who uses them knows that the damn things break
immediately (So of course they offer to sell you more!)! Put out the
lowest quality product possible. Get as much of the market as you
can. Make as much money as possible before jumping ship. This is not
music; this is greed and manipulation.
There are an enormous number of deep catalog titles that will never
appear on CD; much of this wouldn't sell hundreds of thousands of
copies -- so it will never be released. Of course some of that is
currently unavailable on LP as well; but the problem is, now the
record company executives are not only choosing what NEW music we can
listen to - but also what old, already recorded, music we can listen
to. Despite the lack of public and media attention, Ultimate Spinach
is great, and the list of things that are cut out is astounding.
The technology is quite flawed, but the quality of the product was so
very low at first that even the American public, with its unimaginably
low standards, demanded that the mega-corporations at least learn how
to USE the bloody technology before they agreed to give their life
savings to them, for the little plastic frisbees. It wasn't until
mid-1988 that the releases were actually mastered for digital. Before
that they were putting LP recordings straight onto Compact Disc!
Despite minor improvements, the quality is still excruciatingly far
below the capabilities of digital. (Also they keep the recordings far
below even half the maximum length - so you will have to buy more!)
The wonderful in-store packaging that the conglomerates have blessed
us with is not only an incredible pain in the ass - but it is killing
the environment. Of course something has to be done to keep people
from stealing the damn things, but the ridiculous double sized
cardboard boxes, which are only to attract more attention, to get you
to BUY ME, are never used after purchase, and are often left in the
store or the parking lot (although rarely in the trash). Their only
positive quality is that they are better than those fucking plastic
can you say 8-track?
When the next "new perfect format" comes along, and it won't be DAT,
the people who switch to the new configuration will not be LP buyers,
they will be the entrenched CD consumers. The record companies know
this, so they are punishing those CD buyers now, by gouging them for
as much as possible. Mind you, that next, the new "end-all" of
configurations will suffer from many of these same problems.
Capitalism on the tremendous scale practiced by companies like Sony
and Time/Life/Warner is not conducive to artistic pursuits or to
developing good technology; it is only suited to making more money -
and that is what these companies are good at. (Just watch their
commercials on late night TV!) Although it is possible to create a
VERY good music storage system with today's technology; it won't
happen until one somehow manages to slip in the back door, and there
are mega-corporations devoted to preventing that.
Music for money
Compact Discs are basically just pre-meditated marketing bullshit.
They are another wonderful way that unimaginably greedy pricks in NY &
LA not only take your money (lots & lots of it) to buy cars and houses
and drugs, but a way that they use to manipulate the masses to their
own benefit. They will tell you what to listen to, what to like, what
to want, what to think and exactly where to throw your money. And you
will listen, mindlessly.
Zappa says it all
Read a Frank Zappa essay called "Say Cheese". It can be found inside
the fold out cover of "You Are What You Is": on the cover of the LP
that is, it's not on the CD.