Shall I hang on to my CDs?
July 29, 2014 6:26 AM   Subscribe

I am remodeling my attic space to be office/mancave/storage. I have about 3,000 cds boxed and sitting in a closet. I have not played a CD in over 3 years. So I feel I need some nudging or suggestions, you see. In the new attic space I will have room to display them on shelves. I am torn as to do this, keep them boxed or just unload them. My collection is reflective of my non- commercial, eclectic tastes so I am wondering if they have any value as well. BY value I mean cash value. Are CDs dead media these days or are folks collecting them as well. Torn and confused Please, hive, tell me your thoughts
posted by citybuddha to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
People definitely do still buy cds. I have had success selling a ton of mine through, which is super easy to use. Selling through Amazon is another option.

It would be worth at least looking up a sample of what you have, to see if those titles are currently worth anything.
posted by jessicapierce at 7:01 AM on July 29, 2014

It's impossible to know whether you'll play them until you take them out of the boxes. I have a bunch of CDs in boxes in the basement, and a much smaller stack upstairs in the living room. The ones in the living room I play. The ones in the basement I don't.

I would say, before you commit to them as part of the remodel, take them out of the boxes and put a stack somewhere you'll actually be, and see if you find yourself playing them, or if they just become decoration. If the latter, you can consider unloading them.
posted by escabeche at 7:01 AM on July 29, 2014

Common stuff, anything that sold really well, is generally close to worthless. More obscure CDs might be worth $1-5, or more. Some stuff is worth a LOT--$50-100+. This is pretty rare though.

Are these albums you would like to listen to again? Because re-buying this stuff is not cheap, because of shipping. You can buy a CD for 1 cent on Amazon, but shipping of $2.99 will bump it up to 3 bucks. Have you burned these to a hard drive? I would burn the stuff you want to keep, keep any CDs that have any sort of special meaning to you, then take the whole lot to a dealer and dump it.
posted by Slinga at 7:04 AM on July 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

I took some CDs to a reseller who was ever so apologetic that he could only offer me $1 to $3 for them, and some of the weirdest ones he wouldn't take at all. The ones he wouldn't take I managed to sell for $4-$5 each on Amazon. I'm just happy they didn't go to a landfill.

But I think it would be delightfully weird if your attic were full of proudly displayed cds. Why should every audio shrine be built out of vinyl?
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 7:16 AM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding pretty much everything slinga said. But I'd also like to ask if your climate/attic temp situation is conducive to the long term survival of little plastic disks and boxes. Many attics/climates would turn those into abstract art within two to three summers.

And don't just rip the CDs with iTunes or something generic. Use something that will let you keep them in high VBR or 320 kbps. Or FLAC, even.

I ditched nearly all of my CDs a decade ago and have seldom touched the handful I kept. They're just plastic. It's the music that matters. And that's easier to store and access as zeroes and ones.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:35 AM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree with folks above regarding value. I've been selling off my [moderately obscure] CDs on amazon, and it's barely worth my time and effort. The most I've made on a single CD was about $7 (after fees). Most have made less than half that, and a large portion went straight to the thrift store because they were basically worthless.
posted by gueneverey at 7:38 AM on July 29, 2014

These days I have everything I care about that isn't on Spotify uploaded to my Google music account. Between the two, I can now listen to anything anywhere.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:40 AM on July 29, 2014

I ripped any CDs that were songs not easily found elsewhere, kept a few special ones, and scanned the ISBNs of the rest and sold them to the various CD buybacks. I made at least a few hundred bucks on my whole collection. I don't recall the search tool I used, but there are certainly phone apps for this.
posted by k8t at 7:43 AM on July 29, 2014

If your tastes really are "non-commercial," I'd imagine you probably have some discs in your collection that are still valuable. I broke down about 95 percent of my collection into Case Logic binders a few years ago and was pleased to find that a few of my CDs (generally the ones from from obscure artists and small labels that haven't been made available for sale as MP3s) were worth as much as $30-$50 on Amazon and/or eBay, so that was helpful. But if I had the space to spare, I absolutely would prefer to have all of my CDs. And all of the vinyl I've gotten rid of over the decades. (I have no love for the cassettes; I'm glad they're gone.)

But this is a personal preference. I think you have to ask yourself a few questions.

1) Do any/many of the CDs have sentimental value to you as physical artifacts?

2) Can you tell the difference between a CD's uncompressed audio and an MP3?

3) Does the presence of physical media offer any other advantages to you that an MP3 does not?
(For example, my wife is much more likely to listen to an album if it's on the CD shelves, where she can stumble across it and slip it into the PS3 and listen to it on the big home theater system, rather than through headphones on an iPhone or through one of our PCs.)

If the answers to those questions are "no," I can't think of any reason not to comb through and separate the titles that may have some real value for individual sale before unloading the bulk of the discs on Craigslist, through a local reseller, or however.
posted by Mothlight at 7:47 AM on July 29, 2014

Just an anecdote for you: 5 years ago, I was in the same boat you're in now: 3000+ CDs reflecting non-mainstream eclectic tastes and hadn't listened to the discs themselves in a very very long time. I decided to rip 320 mp3 copies of the last discs I didn't have files for yet, and sell the lot of them for whatever I could get. What was dozens of boxes now fits in a portable hard drive that I can fit in my messenger bag. I could have done it years earlier, but I thought I'd miss having the discs around.

Turns out I have spent exactly ZERO minutes regretting that decision.
posted by .kobayashi. at 9:49 AM on July 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

Have you ripped the CDs? If so, you should consider the ethics of selling them. Selling the CD effectively makes your ripped copies pirated copies. If you want to support the musicians, you should not rip and then sell the CDs. You should keep the CDs or toss them.

(My personal take on CDs: I purchase and retain CDs because they are higher quality than the MP3/AAC files that you typically get from online services. I hope one day to have my real sound system set up again. At that point I'll either be playing the CDs or playing lossless rips of the CD contents.)
posted by alms at 11:47 AM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just ditched all my CDs about 8 years ago when I realized I hadn't played on in several years. I just haven't missed them at all.

If you are in the US and you donate them to a charity shop you can claim between $2-5 per CD on your taxes. So between a 6000-15000 deduction. That's not chump change.
posted by srboisvert at 2:45 PM on July 29, 2014

« Older Continuous photo backup on iPhone?   |   How deep is too deep? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.