To keep my CDs or to rip them: That is the question

Although I have bought only about 5 physical CDs in the past few years, I own a few hundred CDs, cassettes, vinyl records, etc. I’m a huge music lover, of course. And I also worked at record stores for a few years – which made me ultra-aware of all the new and good music coming out, so I was tempted to buy so much stuff. I got a nice discount. And back before the economy and recording industry went majorly down, the record companies were generous with giving away free stuff, so I used to have free promo CDs coming out my ears. I have shelves, racks, towers, zipper booklet things, parts of book shelves, plastic bins, etc. full of CDs and tapes.

Although it might look cool to view all the CDs, it no longer feels cool. First of all, it takes a few minutes to find what I’m looking for (if I can find it at all and don’t just give up). It’s somewhat organized, but not totally. It used to be in order by category and alphabet, but after moving several times over the past few years, it’s just like meh. (Besides, even when it was in order, people would always take them out and not put them back in the right spot). And moving them all is a pain and takes several trips back and forth in big, heavy boxes. It seems to take too much time and effort – and space – than what it should, especially with today’s technology.

So here is the question I am debating in my head: Should I import all my CDs on a large external hard drive and get rid of the physical copies… or should I just keep on doing what I’m doing?

I know what I need to do with the cassettes. I don’t own nearly as many cassettes as CDs and I need to just go on eMusic and download the songs I liked from them and donate the tapes to Goodwill/Salvation Army.
And as far as the vinyl is concerned, I’m keeping most of them.

Now I’m considering getting rid of most of my physical copies of CDs and only keeping the CDs that are special (my super favorite ones, albums that I played on, ones that are out of print/hard to find/imports, limited edition versions, etc.) The only time I even use a CD player is on my computer. And that, of course, is capable of playing the mp3 versions.

The geeky and practical side of me says:
Do it! Buy a 1 TB external hard drive and import them all there. You can sell the CDs to a record store and whatever they won’t take, just donate to Goodwill or the library. You will save so much space. Moving will be much easier the next time around. You will be much more likely to hear all your CDs because you can play them on shuffle and go through your library. If you’re looking for a song or album, you can just type what you’re looking for. So much easier! And aside from your beautiful vinyl records, you’re pretty much over the whole "but I have to hold the CD in my hands and own a physical copy of it" mentality. You’re trying to be more efficient, organized, practical, and less of a packrat. You’re doing a good job so far compared to how you used to be. So why haven’t you done this already, dummy?!

The paranoid side of me says:
Sure, it will be a lot easier to find anything in your collection and much easier when moving time comes along, but it’s even easier for someone to just steal your life’s collection! And you can’t afford to buy two hard drives (one of them for backup) so if something happens, you’re screwed. The hard drive could just crap out for an unknown reason, it could get damaged, and again – someone could steal it! Sure, people could still steal your CDs, but at least they’d only make off with a few. That’s better than losing years of music collecting. You could buy a safe to put it in, but those things aren’t cheap. And will you really feel like putting it in the safe every night before you go to bed or every time you leave the house? And even with the safe, it could still stop working due to a technical error.

Now some of you might be thinking: "Just rip them all on a hard drive but keep the original CDs somewhere just in case". But that would really be defeating the purpose.

So what should do? I’m leaning toward the geeky/practical logic. But I’m paranoid that I’d be making the wrong decision.

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33 Comments to “To keep my CDs or to rip them: That is the question”

  1. I’d keep the cd’s but that is just me.

  2. Do both. I still buy 2 to 3 CDs every month. I’ve probably got a little less than a thousand. It’s just too much music to have to deal with, so I burn them all onto my harddrive and let iTunes manage it. I have an external harddrive to save them, so I always have a backup. But if the RIAA ever comes to my door, I’m probably going to want to have physical copies, so I keep them around. I just bought a 160GB iPod to keep all my music in. With a 500GB external hard drive and a iPod, it all costs about 450 to do this. It’s pricey, but music is such a huge part of my life that I don’t mind.
    In short, you can never have to many backups, and your collection can never be too well managed. So do both.

  3. Keep your CDs, especially if you have rare ones. And hang on to those Vinyls! They are worth money and if you get rid of them, you’ll wish you had them someday. But rip them so you have easy access. I have just about my entire collection ripped, I have several hundred CDs myself. Wish I still had my vinyl, but I had a boyfriend who broke all but one of mine when I was in my 20s. 😦

  4. I have this same problem.
    I’ve got all my music uploaded to my Ipod, but I’ve still got my cds meticulously set up in my room at my parents house.
    And I can’t stand the concept of selling them or getting rid of them…despite the fact that I know ultimately, they’re kinda useless.
    I just can’t DO it.
    When I moved to Chicago I left all of them at my parents place. But I’m sure theres going to be SOME point when they’re like “get these things out of here” and I guess I’ll dispose of them then.
    I just can’t let go now. I’ve spent so much time collecting them (I’m STILL collecting them), I just can’t bring myself to part with them.
    Its quite ridiculous.

  5. I’d never get rid of my CDs. There’s going to be times when I need to do a remastering of a CD when one comes up corrupted, which has happened a couple of times. But I’d get a HD anyway – once I finally get organized (probably wont be until a few months before or after I get married) I’ll probably start ripping – but I have so many CDs – at least 4,000 – that could take awhile.
    I should start doing rips of ALL of my vinyl, too, which I tend to bounce right to CD-R’s. Since I got my Numark TTUSB I usually just do rips of whatever I’ve just gotten my hands on (that doesn’t have a download code or CD enclosed) or that I feel like doing a rip of.

  6. Thanks for the input. Is the 500 GB drive big enough for your music collection? Do you know how many gigs your music takes up?! Thanks!
    P.S. – A little birdie (facebook) told me you were engaged, so congrats!

  7. I think I remember you mentioning the evil ex boyfriend who did that to you. He should get the chair for that! *shakes fist* So do you have an idea of how many gigs your music collection takes up?
    Thanks, hon. And Happy Holidays =)

  8. At least I’m not the only one who can’t get rid of them. Even though I said I’d throw out all my cassettes, I couldn’t do it yet. I got rid of a lot but there are some mix tapes people made for me that were really good and I haven’t been able to bring myself to throw them out. Sure, I could just go on iTunes and buy the songs but something about the fact that someone spent the time to make it for me and to estimate if it would fit on the tape that makes it sentimental. Plus, some people took pics from magazines and made mini collages on the tape sleeve cover so I’m like aww I can’t throw this out!

  9. Yeah, I think you’re right. I think either way, we should still get a HD just for the music.
    So when is your wedding date?!

  10. I save my music at the highest quality possible. I burn my cds as 320 kps MP3s, and try to download FLAC files that can be exported as 320 kps MP3s. I have 16613 songs at 95.72 gigs. So I have it saved locally on my HD and then saved again to my external drive. Then I keep the physical copy as the last backup.
    Thanks so much! She flies back home in a week. I can’t wait.

  11. I have at present about 16GB on my ipod, 20GB on my netbook which I just acquired last Friday (hahah, and already got 20GB of music on it! Go me!), and an external hard drive with 80GB of music, not counting what my husband has on his laptop, my oldest son has on his laptop, and my second oldest has on his iMac. 🙂 The space depends on how you rip it – good sound quality can net you an MP3 around 10-20MB, lower quality can net you an MP3 around 3-8MB. I usually rip my cds at 192 (whatever that number stands for) and they sound pretty good even with in-ear earbuds. Just experiment. But do keep a hold of your CDs – partially because they are your legal copy, and you would need them if anyone (RIAA) decided to come after you. You are allowed to rip the CDs and keep a backup copy, so the CD serves as your backup copy so to speak. I know, I sound paranoid. 😉
    And yeah, boo hiss bad boyfriend. I had Rick Springfield, Def Leopard, Quiet Riot, Prince… all sorts of good stuff. Grr. Oh well. See ya chickie!

  12. My husband got rid of my cassettes and that kind of annoyed me. We kept all the CDs and Vinyl tho. I mean, come on, he threw away my Death tapes! I needs my speed death metal!

  13. Yeah, the more irreplaceable tapes I’d just hang onto myself.

  14. I bet you’ll be a happy man when she is back. =)

  15. Let’s just say that I may send her back to California with a limp.

  16. I can’t stand CDs anymore. I fully embrace the digital music media. With the exception of some out of print things and stuff I can’t find digital versions for, I just don’t even buy CDs anymore. F*CK CDs!!! Go geek. Digitize everything. You can buy a second backup hard drive with the cash you get from selling your CDs.

  17. Sounds like you have a geeky and musical family – the best kind! 😉
    I like Rick Springfield! For years, I only heard 2 of his songs, but I dated someone who was older than me last year and he loved him. He played one of his CDs and I was like “this guy’s even better than I thought!”
    I curse the day your ex boyfriend was born.

  18. I had a bunch of 45s. OMG, Rick Springfield, ever hear his cover of “Black is Black”? It’s awesome. He really was talented, but got caught up in the one hit wonders that made the 80s. I remember sitting with my girlfriends playing records for hours… playing the Purple Rain album backwards so we could understand the backwards lyrics… so fascinating. The Eagles used to put sayings on the inside of the record just after the last song and around where the label was.. they would have stuff etched there “Do you wanna rock your bear”… I can’t remember which album that was. And the album art – wow, what a medium for artists back then.
    Keep your vinyl and treasure it girl.

  19. Yeah, I love my vinyl. Some of them are works of art – even my Limp Bizkit red vinyl! Haha. And there was extra artwork not included with the CD and there were things you could see on the graffiti wall that weren’t as visible on the CD or tape versions.

  20. Yeah, I’m finding that some of the tapes are out of print in any format now. There is a band who I think is from the UK – Babylon Zoo. They’re not even on iTunes.

  21. I love my husband’s Alice Cooper picture vinyls, so cool. I plan on replacing what I lost so many years ago. I have a very nice turn-table, it is dj quality, cost me a nice chunk of change and I can hook it up to my computer. I think it is Audio Technica or something like that. 🙂 I was a band brat, played 3 instruments, and my oldest son writes his own music with an old yamaha midi keyboard and his computer. I’m trying to get him to learn how to remix stuff. The youngest has a guitar in his Christmas presents. And I have a friend who used to play in a local band here years ago who will teach him. We are very musical or love music. 🙂

  22. Haha I love your icon. I still kept the theme song that you imported in my iTunes.
    I’m with you on that. I used to be like “screw paying for a download, if I’m paying I want to be able to hold it on my hands and I need a physical copy”. But now, except for some artists I might be uber geeky about, I’d much rather have the digital format. You still get the artwork and you can either get a digital version of the lyrics or just look them up. I don’t even like getting paper bills anymore. I’d rather have it all online and it’s so much easier because I don’t have to keep and file the copies because the companies will keep the digital versions online.
    I’m finding that the prices of HDs have gone down even from a year ago. I can get a 1TB HD for less than what I paid for my 500GB last year so I might just be able to afford the cost after all. 🙂

  23. Absolutely! And some things even sound better on vinyl. My ex ex ex boyfriend had a Portishead album on vinyl and it sounded so good!

  24. That’s awesome that your whole family is so musically talented.

  25. Wait, so you got married already? Or did you mean 09?

  26. Aww, are you okay? Are you sick?
    Well, at least I don’t feel bad for not saying Congrats. But congrats none the less 😉

  27. ooo – I love Portishead. I just ordered a NIN picture disk from their website. I finally got to go see a concert (40 years old and had never been to a concert in my life!) and NIN was my first show to see – it was awesome. NIN s my second favorite, Depeche Mode is my first, and they are supposed to be on tour next year, although they haven’t posted tour dates for the states yet, but when they do, I plann on going to one of their concerts. 🙂
    Portishead did a cover of a Depeche Mode song – Waiting for the Night from the Violator album – they did a good job of it.

  28. I have a bacterial infection that’s left me with a dry cough. I’m in the middle of a 5-day z-pack regimen and was also prescribed promethezine, which I am only taking before I go to bed as I don’t like my consciousness wavering between semi- and un-.

  29. Aww, I hope you feel better. I used to have to take promethazine because I was on another medication that made me nauseated. Anyway, I hope your meds help you.

  30. I saw NIN with A Perfect Circle back in 2000. Great concert! And I love Depeche Mode! Their music is amazing and they were one of the bands that convinced me when I was younger that it’s okay to be a keyboardist in a rock band. (Also, Duran Duran convineed me). I think they were the only keyboard-based rock band to sell out Madison Square Garden back in the 1980s, which was unheard of before.
    Portishead came to the 9:30 Club in D.C. in the late 1990s. I wanted to go so badly but it was $60 a ticket, which is a lot now and was even more back then. (Plus, I was a teenager so my funds were limited). Everyone was like “Oh, don’t worry. They’ll be back again”. But they haven’t been back since and I think if they were to tour here again, it would sell out so quickly.

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