To Doug Schneider,
Your article "Why the Compact Disc Will Die and Never Return" is spot on. However, I think the demise of the CD will be slow to happen. The CD is still the primary means of distributing new recordings, and the music industry has a lot of machinery in place to sell CDs. Most of the new recordings I buy are not available as downloads so I have to buy and rip CDs. As the CD goes away, the music industry as we know it will alter greatly. Most brick-and-mortar stores have already gone away, replaced by Amazon.com. But the download sites today don't offer high-quality material -- mostly MP3s and other compressed formats. For CDs to go away, there has to be easy access to downloads of CD quality or better. iTunes won't cut it. HDtracks is trying hard to fill the gap, but still doesn't have a huge amount of new releases. Most other download sites are pretty small, and brand-specific.
Another factor is there are a lot of baby boomers who lack the computer skills to handle downloads. They are still more comfortable with a physical medium they can handle. I know several audiophiles in the boomer age bracket that are just stumped by downloading, unzipping, and copying files -- things we take for granted. Those guys will eventually die off, taking with them in the process most of the LP market, which now consists mostly of reissues of albums from the ’60s-’80s.
Another factor that will speed the demise of the CD is the so-called hi-rez streaming sites. I recently signed up with Tidal, which offers CD-quality streaming, and it sounds pretty good. They have a number of newish releases that I can sample for a modest monthly charge. Why should I download an album when I can listen to it anytime I want, and anywhere, from an online site? All it takes is bandwidth.