Apple, U2 deal ‘suggests the end of the CD as we know it’

“Before the euphoria dies away, and just before those red-eyed black iPods start hurtling out of the shops, let us consider for a moment the deeper significance of Apple’s deal with Bono and the boys of U2. They may look grungy but they are hardheaded businessmen as well as trend-setting musicians,” Garry Barker writes for The Age.

“Apple is a business that also sets trends. Who would have thought a computer company would so radically change the direction of the recorded music industry? U2’s deal, in which the band will market its massive 400-track digital box set – the entire U2 collection, including stuff not previously heard – suggests the end of the CD as we, and the big labels, know it,” Barker writes.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The only constant is change.


  1. MDN take: Well said.

    I’m constantly amazed by Apple’s ability to apply itself in the digital music industry. I remember reading something Monkey Boy was saying about 3 years ago, and he was going on about “Windows Media Edition” or something. I looked at it and thought “urgh, nice vision, shame about your version of it”. Then Apple just took over, first with AirPort (leading to AirPort Express), iTunes, iTMS, iPod (which has spawned a whole new industry – the iPod Accessory one). To me the PC looks so lame multimedia-wise when compared to a Mac. Everything about the setup of music on a Mac just WORKS with ZERO config (or very little).

    I can’t wait for a bit of serious competition to Apple, because then Apple will start to built software people simply won’t resist buying. After all, “The only constant is change”.

  2. Good point smithy…

    Im just constantly amazed at what comes out of Cupertino… period

    But… the line (above) about this “suggesting the end of the CD”… bothers me…

    I once had a lot tied up in records… then the CD came around… and they promised that CDs would be cheaper, and this would be the final format I would have to switch to…

    And now ?? Whats next ?

    A-a-arg !!

  3. Seemed there was a story within the last few weeks stating the same thing, that CDs are going to go away and they’ll be a thing of the past. I have to disagree.

    Although it’s “the next big thing” to download your music from the net, what percentage of the population has the ability, and what percentage actually does it? Until you can get music to all of the masses, they won’t disappear.

    Yes, the younger generation is espousing the idea of purchasing music online and not requiring a CD, but I believe that most people will continue to buy CDs even after they have discovered online purchasing.

    Just my 2 cents, but they are worth the same as Gary Barker’s 2 cents.

  4. Apple was the first to discontinue the floppy – and the industry laughed at Apple. and gues what, floppies have all but disappeared.

    Apple is now pushing CD’less music – and maybe data? though it may take longer, but the CD will go the way of vinyl, 8-trak, cassette, and floppy. People still buy vinyl records and cassettes, but only in boutique stores now.

    Apple is all about innovation and the customer experience. They about pushing forward – not being nostalgic.

  5. Since the Itunes Music Store hit the UK I have not bought a single music cd!

    Im also a 37yr old married male with 2 kids! – So it’s not just the 10-21yr olds that is embracing the new digital music area.


    The end of the cd format is definately coming…

  6. Sure you can have CD’s, same as you have old rare books or LP’s, but, your definitive music collection will be digital and it will follow you wherever you go and more than likely be upgraded into new formats in due course..

  7. Sorry, cd sales will remain.

    Most people don’t have computers or if they do the ability, desire or moral fiber required to pay for their music.

    People online overwhelming prefer Rock.

    Country music is the biggest selling genre in the US. Now throw in Hip Hop/Rap etc.

    Cd’s are not going anywhere, more like a copy protected/scrambled cd will imerge along with legit scrambled online sales.

    M$ is busy behind the scenes, trust me.

  8. I dont have an interest in buying cds lately either. iTunes has most everything I want. And they are pretty good about going out and finding those bands that are requested. Keep on trucking Steve get the labels to open the vaults. Want I want to see is artists selling directly through the store without the labels.

  9. In 10 years time you will go to your local shopping centre and you will see no virgin mega stores, HMVs or any other ‘traditional’ store that sells music.

    What you will see will be a music download booth – about the size of a phone box. You will connect your digital music player to the booth, swipe your credit card in the machine, look through the 50+ million tracks, listen to the 30 second previews, choose your music and buy it there and then.

    Your paid for music will then automatically download onto the music player, you disconnect it from the
    booth and go.


  10. I disagree with the authors assertion that Apple changed “the direction of the recorded music industry”. The technology itself made the direction inevitable. However, Apple has by far done the best job of actualizing the software, the hardware, the “store”,and their integration.

    CDs will always exist, but they will become marginalized over time, just as vinyl has. Current limitations in access will gradually dissolve, just as the limitation in bandwidth and storage as problems have gone away. However, CDs will persist in the long term for people like me that like to have the album art and bookcases full of CDs. However, just like vinyl, it will not take long for the masses to get over such things.

    Moreover, as people have once again grown used to acquiring music as single songs (both legally and illegally), it seems inevitable that the “album” or “disc” – the idea of a unified work put out all at once – will also no longer be the assumed format for musicians to use, though many obviously still will. Pop artists may choose to go back to the 50’s model of releasing singles, though in a more modern conception, eg with donwloadable video.

    Will it be in 5 years? No. But in 25 years, I believe that substantial changes in music distribution will have taken hold. Hopefully, we’ll all be able to walk around with most of our music collection in CD quality format that we downloaded from a iTunes (maybe iTunes will finally offer half the stuff I want to buy, too). Perhaps the RIAA will even have figured out they can’t stop copying or sharing and actually leverage P2P to their advantage! Downloads or subscription services (I don’t like them, but there is economic incentive for record companies to push them) will be the predominant mode of music distribution in the not too distant future. They are too cost-effective for the providers and too convenient for the consumer to think anything else.

    Music downloads are currently a small part of the market, sure, and pale in comarison to illegal trading. However, it seems obvious where we are going – thank god Apple has created an intuitive and easy to use interface and inspired hardware to make traveling that road enjoyable!

  11. Twenty Benson

    Not much point in that Solar flare. In ten years time most people will have home access to the internet.

    YES I know that!

    BUT – People will need/expect to connect their portable device OUTSIDE the home to buy downloads.

    Think of it like buying a cd in a store… except the stores will be download booths located in shopping centres.

    So you will be able to download/buy music at home AND out and about too!

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