CD Comeback: Music listeners gravitate toward physical copies


Sally Panis

Junior Maggie Brennan and senior Lily Sumstine showcase some of their favorite CD albums.

Sally Panis, Features Editor

With each car, an important decision arises for every ride, “What music should I play?” The atmosphere and tone for a moment are heavily reliant on the music selection and even more, the platform used.

For junior Maggie Brennan and senior Lily Sumstine, searching through Half Price Books or a local thrift store makes CDs not only the perfect choice but a fun experience as well. 

Streaming platforms like iPods and Spotify slowly overturned the usage and popularity of CDs in 2003, according to Retro Manufacturing. The concept of a digital music library was revolutionary with easier accessibility and lower prices, setting the stage for the abandonment of CDs.

However, according to a Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) report, Americans purchased 46.6 million CDs in 2021. This was about a 50% increase in CDs shipped from 2020. In addition, CD revenues rose for the first time in 18 years to $584 million.

“I hopped on the trend about two years ago, but I grew up on CDs,” Brennan said. “We always played CDs in the car and never really used the radio, I guess it stuck with me.”

Car rides also played a pivotal role in Sumstine’s interest in CDs. According to Sumstine, complications with either aux cords or internet connection make CDs a more reliable source.

“I really started buying CDs freshman year since my car didn’t have an aux cord,” Sumstine said. “CDs feel more straightforward and when my Spotify won’t work, I get mad. Honestly though, I probably was ahead of the trend.”

Artists like The Beatles, Radiohead, Weezer and Ella Fitzgerald are all in Brennan and Sumstine’s CD collection due to parental influence, the urge to support your favorite musicians, and matching the vibe of every mood and occasion.

“Having a physical copy of my favorite artists is one of the best things,” Brennan said. “It adds an aspect of fun and my dad’s old CDs started my collection. I like supporting the artist in a bigger way other than just streaming their music.”

The iPhone and other technology have consumed Generation Z, which has affected productivity rates and time management skills, but Sumstine said CDs provide music without distraction.

“I hate to be on my phone all the time, and I don’t like going through all my songs on Spotify to find what I’m looking for,” Sumstine said. “It is easier to take out a CD to listen to in the car. I clean my room only while listening to CDs so I can focus.”

According to Brennan CDs create a more calm and comfortable setting since it allows her to be in the moment and talk to others on a higher level and a higher quality of sound. With affordable prices and the trend cycle,

“I think it is the obsession with the new vintage, it’s cool now to be vintage,” Brennan said. “I just love being able to put a CD in and not have to think about it, and it allows me to be more at the moment and talk to someone or do something. It is freeing.”