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Experts: Best Buy decision aside, CDs still a sound choice

FARGO—The recent announcement by Best Buy that its stores will stop selling compact discs later this summer may have left some wondering whether CDs are spinning toward extinction.

Not necessarily, says, Ross Raihala, pop music critic for the Pioneer Press in St. Paul.

"Best Buy pulling CDs will hurt, but a lot of people have been saying this is the death knell for the CD format; I think that's a little bit of an exaggeration," Raihala said.

"CDs still sell fairly well in other markets around the world, sales aren't dropping like they are here," he added.

Raihala noted that after CDs came along in the late 1970s people began dumping vinyl records for the smaller, more easily portable saucers.

"And that's what happened to CDs, it's a convenience thing," Raihala said. "People would rather just push a button on their phone and stream whatever they want, rather than worry about a CD.

"But the thing is, artists still use CDs. With a lot of touring bands, it's pretty standard now if you buy a ticket you get a CD, or a download," Raihala said.

He added that even if people can't find CDs at stores like Best Buy, they can easily buy them multiple places online.

There are also used CD stores, like RetroDisc in Moorhead, which began selling used CDs in 1993.

Today, it also sells used DVDs and Blu-ray discs.

When it comes to CDs, the digital music format has enjoyed a comeback in the last couple of years, according to RetroDisc owner Tim Gaslin.

Gaslin said his customers range in age from about 15 to 50 and older.

Many customers are collectors of a certain artist or band and used CDs are their best chance at completing their library, Gaslin said, adding that bands like Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith remain strong sellers.

"The old standards that have stood the test of time are still moving pretty good," he said.

Raihala said nostalgia plays a big role in keeping music technologies around after new formats emerge. He said CDs and even albums still hold appeal for many.

"I totally get the pleasure of vinyl, especially for people Gen X and older, it's a nostalgia thing.

"With vinyl, it's fun to have people over and put on a record," Raihala said.

Raihala said he is the owner of a sizeable collection of CDs, many of which, he acknowledged, are gathering dust.

Still, he is hesitant to winnow down his library, particularly when it comes to more obscure recordings.

"I don't know for sure I'll be able to find that on streaming," he said.

Dave Olson
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