Music by VICE

Humans of the CD Store: Who Stills Buys Compact Discs?

We headed to a music store at a shopping centre in suburban Perth to find out who is buying CDs.

by Katherine Gillespie
Nov 26 2015, 6:54am

Often dismissed as a relic of the pre-digital age or an easy Christmas present for grandparents who don't know how to use iTunes, compact discs are the most maligned of the music formats.

Despite this it seems that stores like Sanity and JB HiFi sell enough So Fresh compilations and Adele albums to stay in business. But to who? I hit up Sanity in Perth's Midland Gate Shopping Centre to ask people why they still buy CDs in 2015.

Trevor and Blake frequent outlets like Sanity as well as independent record stores.

Noisey: Hey guys, talk me through the CDs you're looking at.
Trevor: Jackie Onassis and Horrorshow.

Do you often buy CDs?
Trevor: I'm working on a collection. I've got about nineteen at the minute. Three Seth Sentry albums, the Fundamentals albums, Horrorshow, I've got two from Jackie Onassis. I bought their Pristine Alley album the day it was released.

Why not download?
Trevor: I do, but I prefer hard copy, and I reckon it sounds better on the stereo as well.

Is there a future for CDs?
Trevor: I reckon there is. There are a lot of people out there that are into buying CDs, it's not as popular but people who do it, they love it.

Natasha bought One Direction's Made in the A.M. She's team Louis.

So Natasha, do you have all One Direction's CDs?
I don't have Take Me Home, but I have all the others.

Do you download music too?
Yeah, the only CDs I really buy are One Direction.

So this is a pure act of fandom.
Yeah, it's nice to own them. I think just for the look.

Cathy couldn't find the CD she was searching for.

What are you looking for?
Chris Isaak for my mother-in-law. She's just discovered him all of a sudden because she watches that music thing on TV?

The X Factor?
Yeah that's the one. Weirdly she'd never heard of him before, even though he's been going for like twenty or thirty years.

Do you buy CDs yourself?
I do, yes. I love Muse. I love LunchMoney Lewis, and all the rappers. I like everybody actually! I like Sia. I do download songs from Google Play.

Do you think CDs will still be around in ten years?
No, unfortunately. It's sad. I miss the old LPs and the cassettes. I loved taping records onto cassettes and listening to them. But you can't listen to tapes on anything anymore.

Good luck. Maybe try K-Mart?
Nah, K-Mart have jack all.

Gallop and Ryan play in a local band together. They were buying Slayer albums.

So you guys are into Slayer?
Gallop: We are, even though it's nothing like what we do. We're called The Arcadian, and are kind of progressive hardcore. It's a good mixture of heavy and melodic.

What's the metal selection like here?
Gallop: Not too bad, a lot of soft stuff that isn't really our cup of tea, like Escape the Fate, My Chem, shit like that. But we're old school rockers.
Ryan: The music selection here got better about a year ago, it used to be fucking god-awful. Now they've got lots of good stuff, you've got Motley Crue, that's cool, Slash, that's cool, Iron Maiden, stoked about that. Slayer, System.
Gallop: Oh man, look, they've got Tool now!

Do you guys always buy CDs?
Gallop: I used to, I still do when I have the cash, but I've been really broke. I shouldn't really be looking at this section right now, there's so many albums I want to buy. But yeah, I've got a massive CD collection. I often go to JB Hi Fi and buy heaps.

Do you download as well?
Ryan: I don't even have a computer. I haven't downloaded in over a year.
Gallop: If I download it, and I like it, then I'll still buy it. Oh man, look they've got Frenzal Rhomb here. No way!
Ryan: The drummer in our band, and I used to buy three albums every Friday and just have drinks and listen to them. We just got completely sloshed and listened to music every Friday for a couple of years. So I've got a stack of them now, hundreds and hundreds of CDs.

Tom, who did not wish to be photographed, was perusing the country section.

What are you looking to buy today?
I've been listening to a lot of country lately. I'm looking for Townes Van Zandt, but it doesn't look like they have anything by him. I've only heard one or two of his songs, but I really liked them.

Do you often buy CDs?
Yeah, sometimes CDs and sometimes I download. It's nice to own something physical. Also I tend to buy compilation CDs, instead of spending hours downloading heaps of different things, it's just way easier.

Are CDs on the way out?
Well, the Baby Boomers are going to be alive for the next 30 years. So, I don't see them stopping buying CDs anytime soon. And there's always hipsters, they like buying something real, don't they?

Sue, 57, bought Triple J's 40 Years of Music compilation. She is a regular customer at Sanity.

Do you buy many CDs?
Yeah, I've got about 300 CDs at home.

That's so many!
That's right, sometimes I've got to check before I go to the shop, in case I double up. Sometimes I'll buy a compilation CD and realise I've already got most of the songs.

Do they update their stock pretty regularly here?
They do. I was here last week, and a few new ones are in since then.

Ever download music?
I haven't done that yet. I really like coming into these shops, it's a shame there aren't many of them left anymore. A few years ago, you used to have heaps of them in the shopping centres, but now you're battling to find them. I used to spend a lot of time in England and they had massive CD stores, you'd get lost in them. But that's phased out now.

Speaking to people today about how much fun they're having here, it's kind of making me sad.
It is. I suppose it's old school, shopping for music like this, but it gets you out of the house, doesn't it?

Kat Gillespie is a Melbourne based writer who owns 50 CDs. Follow her @normcor3