There’s no other way to say it—growing up in the ’90s was pretty awesome. Sure, we didn’t really have the internet and we couldn’t watch 18 episodes of our favorite show all in a row, but we had other—dare I say better?!—sources of entertainment. From Tamagotchis and Beanie Babies to inflatable furniture and Bill Nye, childhood in the ’90s was pretty awesome.
My all-time favorite memory, though? Begging my parents to take to me to the local music store to pick up the latest and greatest CD by whomever was popular at that moment. So I feel slightly bittersweet at the news that buying CDs in-store is becoming slightly less possible.
What did I love about the ability to buy a CD in a store? It wasn’t just the need to have the music. On top of that desire, there was just something special about acquiring a full disc of songs you hadn’t heard yet, aside from the one single that had already been released to the radio stations. There was nothing but possibility when you decided to buy a CD. And while you may have felt disappointment upon discovering that you had just spent $15 only to enjoy that one song you already knew, there was still something special about holding that CD in your hands.
There was a connection to the artist, a physical product that took some effort to purchase, and that contained track listings, lyrics, and/or liner notes intended to convey the meaning and inspiration behind the album. Not to mention the surprise extras, like the liner CD sleeves that maybe, just maybe, folded out into a giant poster of JT.
But like records, 8-tracks and cassettes, CDs are now finding themselves officially overtaken by mp3s and streaming services. And come July 1, media retail giant Best Buy will officially no longer sell them in stores.
According to Billboard, CD sales were down 18.5 percent last year, and physical music sales are only generating around $40 million annually for Best Buy. The company will, however, continue to carry vinyl for another two years.
Billboard also says that Target is restructuring how they sell CDs. The company is telling music suppliers that, from now on, they want CDs to be sold on a consignment basis. So instead of the store taking a risk by paying for goods they haven’t sold yet, the inventory risk will be on the label.
None of this should come as a surprise. But it is sort of sad to approach the end of an era, one that began in the U.S. with Billy Joel’s 1982 release of “52nd Street”.
By the way, my first CD was “Now That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 1,” which is now apparently 20 years old (!!!). What was the first CD you ever owned?