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does this Christmas 2021 smell like a Christmas tree for the CD?

According to some, they are only good at keeping pigeons away from balconies. The CD is kaput, finito, has-been. And yet: on November 23, the first sales figures for Orelsan’s latest album, Civilization, provided a scathing denial of the idea that the death knell had already sounded for the star medium of the 1990s and 2000s. Of the 94 306 sold by the rapper in three days, 80% sold in physical format. Clever, Orelsan knew how to exploit the “collector” fiber of his fans. The disc has indeed appeared in fifteen different editions, each illustrated with a song from the album. This is enough to give back to the CD object a value that goes beyond the mere function of a storage medium. The silver cake experienced another comeback hype unexpected thanks to the release, organized by the youtubeur Squeezie and the mass distribution brand Lidl, of two singles parodying the boy bands of the 2000s, as part of a charity operation by Secours populaire.

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These bursts obviously contrast with the general state of form of the Compact Disc: according to figures from the National Syndicate of Phonographic Publishing, physical albums (CDs and vinyls) only represented 37% of the industry’s income. music in 2019, compared to 84% in 2010. We would go a little quickly to decree that the mass is said for the CD, caught in a pincer movement between the more practical streaming and the more aesthetic vinyl. First, the explosion in the price of vinyl – 30 euros for a novelty! – is in the process of transforming a niche product into a luxury product. Then, the CD still generated, despite a clear downward trend, 174 million euros in revenue in 2019, compared with the 46 million reported by its ancestor. But then, has the time for the last lap(s) really arrived for the CD? While preparing their Christmas gifts, 415 readers of Marianne responded to our call for testimonials to calm this unbearable anxiety, sketching the portrait of these French people for whom the CD still has a bright future ahead of it.


I think of myself as a dinosaur “Smiles Lucille, whose 41 years leave her still a few years before fossilization. Working in a music label, Lucille has a professional account on a streaming platform. Yet it is the CD that he uses on a daily basis. With her companion, also a music lover, Lucille collects CDs. ” If there are limited editions under the tree, I’m delighted! “, she assures. Their apartment in Asnières is cluttered with 500 to 600 records, and a ” nice audiophile system, completely disproportionate to the size of our apartment “, on which a CD spins ” from the morning “. Part of the stock has been relocated “ at Grandpa and Grandma’s », but the catalog continues to expand, with the release of demos by PJ Harvey or Nick Cave’s B-Sides. Above all, the lack of space does not prevent Lucille and her spouse from keeping copies of their favorite albums close to them, even in duplicate: “ We each have our Appetite for Destruction [de Guns N’ Roses] and our Use your Illusion I and II [toujours de Guns N’ Roses]“, she laughs.

Like vinyl lovers, CD lovers are ” a little fetish “, as Frédéric, 62, readily admits. ” I am not pure spirit. I need to relate to things that are somewhat concrete, tangible, to lend, touch or exchange », explains the classical music buff, for whom the catalogs of CDs are « extraordinarily rich », « more than on the internet “. Although he only buys a dozen records each year, compared to a hundred previously, Frédéric carefully preserves his listening ritual, on the channel in his living room: “ I’m alone and I don’t do much else. I’m a great romantic, so I listen and let myself be carried away by things that I really like. “, he confides. ” My daughters laugh at me when I ask for CDs for Christmas, says the Lyon commercial agent but I don’t see the problem: you can have an e-reader and a library! »

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At the risk of books or records gathering dust on a shelf? Stéphane concedes: Even the CDs I bought recently, I don’t listen to them anymore. “The 47-year-old computer scientist switched to streaming for his daily use, but continues to buy records” to support artists », or because they cannot be found in another format. This was the case with his latest acquisition, an album by American stoner band Monster Magnet. Stéphane takes a nostalgic look at his shelves: “ It’s a kind of window on the past when I look at my disco. Getting rid of it would be heartbreaking. The disappearance of the CD player in his car, too recent to still be equipped with it, has accelerated, in his case, the feeling of obsolescence that surrounds the format.


The car, especially if it is more than ten years old, is one of the last strongholds of CD. In this impregnable fortress, the glove box acts as a powder keg, the storage compartment is an arsenal and, under the passenger seat, a pocket serves as a cartridge pouch. Déborah and Sylvie organize the resistance. The first, a history-geography teacher in Bourges, talks about ” cases lying around everywhere [s]in the car, including on the ground or on the seats “. The young thirty-year-old, who still bought Kyo’s latest album a fortnight ago, recognizes that she and her companion are ” a little alone around them to use CDs, not at all obsolete ” to his eyes. ” If I take my students, some don’t even know what it is “, she says. A good part of its discotheque was acquired in the wake of the Bourges spring, ” to support small bands releasing their first albums “.

As for Sylvie, 44, she renews very regularly [s]a selection of three or four albums » that she listens to in her « old car » in addition to a few permanent staff, including « a 1980s compilation » engraved by him. The official sees the CD as a ” good compromise “: ” It is compact, has good sound quality, is very accessible and benefits from a little extra soul compared to streaming. “She listens to a lot of music on YouTube, but wants to” have the physical object for her favorite records, which she had to sort and choose carefully when she separated from her husband. Sylvie, who could quite offer a CD like A Touch of Jazz from Sting to [s]a sister for christmas “, is wary of the web. ” I have a little feeling of insecurity. I tell myself that online music may disappear “, she relates.

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One of my obsessions with streaming is that an artist disappears from a platform overnight because their record company does not want them to appear in such and such a place. “, abounds Guillaume, 46 years old. The discotheque of this Parisian executive, formerly editor-in-chief of a webzine devoted to pop on behalf of which he served as ” mailbox », has reached 4,000 references, all digitized on his computer with the greatest care. ” I resisted the sirens of streaming, because I like the idea of ​​’owning’ my music, not in a capitalist sense, but more to know that it is close to me “, he details. For Guillaume, the obsolescence of the CD is an Eldorado, since the bins of second-hand stores are now full of discs. ” Pearls can be found at ridiculous pricesenthuses this inveterate bargain hunter. If I let myself be tempted by going to Boulinier or Gibert, I can spend a while there. »


Guillaume grew up at a time when the CD still had a magical aura. He remembers : ” I grew up in the countryside, in Berry, in a context without the Internet, where there was only television, radio and the music press. Music was rare. The nearest record store was sixty kilometers away, so the record item had Holy Grail value, and it was a time when some records were very hard to find. I’ve coveted some of them for years without ever hearing a note of them: band albums quoted in articles from the Inrocks who were throwing breadcrumbs that I was trying to follow. »

The CDs are for him small pebbles, a materialization of a path to other artists, with the liner notes, the musicians, the producer, the covers, etc. “. A link leading from one artist to another, the record is also a link between generations: for several young parents interviewed, it is a medium for transmitting a certain relationship to music, linked to the album format and to a form of reverence for artists. ” For my 7 year old daughter, the CD object has a meaningnotes Guillaume. She has a few, and I’ve played her some stuff before. Without imposing anything on him, I try to suggest things by picking from my discotheque. »

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Quit pretending to be ” an alien », Sylvie offers CDs, « much more accessible than vinyl to her 12-year-old son: He knows that Ziggy Stardust it can be listened to in fullshe rejoices. I try to give him the idea that music is not just about consuming pieces. Lucile’s 7-year-old son, for his part, quickly learned to use the family channel: he grabbed a few albums, which he comes to play in the living room, and washes his hands before touching a white digipack. ” He says: my favorite is number 5says his mother. It’s a thing of people who listen to CDs, that! »

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