CD’s and their Holographic Memories

Do you remember your first CD? Do you still have it stored safely, in some dusty case or cluttered drawer? Would it also happen to be the McDonald’s KidzBop Happy Meal? Many questions come to mind as I have pondered the existence of those floppy, easily scratched keepsakes. I have a personal love for collecting CDs, having been gifted a massive bag of them at a young age. I remember meticulously organizing my family members’ collections, carefully rearranging and exploring each plastic case. I was enthralled to see what lay within the pages of each lyric book. Some cases were broken, others were torn, and a few of them didn’t even have the disc inside. But each one had history; the proof was in each scuff, crack, and holographic memory. 

The CD (compact disc) had been around since 1957, when inventor Antonio Rubbiani first created a device that mimicked the appearance and audio of a previously recorded television show. It was that start that led electronic manufacturers, Sony and Philips, to team up to fully develop the CD we know today. This new technology was smaller than its bulkier counterpart, the vinyl record, while also being more convenient than a cassette tape since CD users could skip through the track list with ease. By 1982, the product was made public to music lovers everywhere, inevitably revolutionizing the way we listened to and stored our tunes. However, with the release of iTunes in 2001, people would eventually buy their music online and lose the tradition of buying physical copies.

Like many things that grow old with time, CDs have become a relic and a classic thrift store collectible. Just like vinyl and cassette tapes, one must buy specific technology to play their beloved tunes. And isn’t it crazy to think that most cars don’t even have a CD slot anymore? Despite this fact, many collectors like myself will continuously prize these “vintage” items for years to come. Nothing compares to physically having a copy of your favorite albums, for it genuinely feels yours. One of my favorite things to do is pick an album for the week from my abundant display, to then play it in my car during rides. Having a tangible copy not only grants you ownership but additionally allows you to listen to that particular music any time you want (as long as you have a 2013 vehicle like me). This truth is especially relevant if there’s ever an internet outage, hindering one from using music streaming services. Speaking of these services, many artists don’t have/occasionally remove their music on apps like Spotify and Apple Music. It’s another reason why physical music like CDs, cassettes, and vinyls can be so valuable. 

Have you ever burned a CD before? Sounds a bit scary, I know. But curating your own little set of songs into one disc is one of the most intimate forms of music listening.

The following steps come from my personal experience:

Materials: Blank CD, File sharing client of your choice (Frostwire and Limewire were my go-to’s), Sharpie, some sort of electronic device that can take in the CD (older laptop or external DVD drive), safe place to store newly burned mixtape

Step 1: With the help of a computer and file sharing client, download your preferred tunes on to your device. 

Step 2: Once you have generated an MP3 file with your playlist, insert the CD into the PC/external drive (ensure that your device registers the CD Drive).

Step 3: Using a media player (such as Windows Media Player), click on the “Burn” tab.

Step 4: With your playlist file open at the same time as the media player, left-click to select all the songs. 

Step 5: Right-click the highlighted songs to drag and drop them into the “Burn” list. 

Step 6: Click the “Start Burn” button; your CD is officially cooking!

Step 7: After the process is complete, safely eject the CD.

Step 8: Use that permanent marker to doodle, decorate, and label your new, awesome mixtape. 

Congratulations! You just burned a CD like they did in the olden days (early 2000’s). Just like you might make and personalize your playlists online, burning a CD gives you your own tactile set of songs. Customize it even further by creating a colorful design or a makeshift case. Feel free to scribble an amorous message, or perhaps an original title matching your exclusive tracklist. Give a heartfelt mixtape with love songs to a special person. Or even a throwback compilation for your nostalgic parent. As a matter of fact, if you have your original music downloaded to your PC, burn an official album!

From the perspective of our South Florida music scene, compact discs indeed have their significant role. Though it’s not the most common thing nowadays, I have seen a few merch tables with physical CD cases, adorned with handmade cover art and Sharpie-written track lists. I believe it is a wonderful way for musicians to spread their art in a creative yet classic way. Not to mention, it is a memorable goodie that can make any fan feel like they are taking the show back home with them. Who knows? Maybe your next EP can be the start of someone’s own CD collection.

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