mrk.'s seventeen reasons to hate CD's (Dec 1988)

  1. CD's skip
    "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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 collections.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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).
  8. 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.
  9. Greatest hits
    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..."
  10. Short lifespan
    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!)
  11. Product
    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.
  12. Culling catalog
    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.
  13. Poor quality
    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!)
  14. Extra waste
    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 blister packs!!!
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
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