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  • Leah Cee

Decluttering - CDs

Do you remember when you bought your first CD?

I do. It was the early 90's. I had the remnants of a perm and I excitedly went to Brash's just off Rundle Mall for a meet and greet. Not only did I buy "Southern Sons" by Southern Sons, but I also had the CD signed and still have a photo of myself with Jack Jones (later to be confused with Jack Johnson, who, to be honest, I'd rather have had my photo taken with).

To me CD technology was revolutionary. Click a button and immediately I found my favourite track. No more “fast forward, stop, play, fast forward, stop, play, fast forward, stop play, rewind, stop, play” to listen to your favourite song.

No more melted tape wound around the heads of the car cassette player on a hot summers day. No more flipping the cassette over after four songs. Just one lovely little shiny disc. How marvellous it was.

I soon replaced most of my cassettes with the identical CD versions of the albums and grew my collection over 20 something years to around 300 or so discs. Not many in comparison to some music libraries but I accrued quite a substantial amount of Broadway Musical albums when I was heavily into theatre through the 90’s and 00’s.

Footloose and fancy free, I travelled the world and lobbed in The Big Apple many a time. The sparkle of Times Square drew me to the now long gone, Mecca of Music - The Virgin Megastore. I bought up every Broadway CD I could stuff in my Samsonite and headed back home delighted with my expanded theatre collection.

The problem was, of all of my new wares, I only listened to a handful of discs. They were on high rotation, but once I chose my favourites, the others were left sitting idle. They looked terrific - filling up my shelves in all their multicoloured glory, but were they fulfilling their purpose?

In the early 2000’s along came iTunes and the iPod. Could this get any better? It was now possible to hold my entire collection in the palm of my hand. I could carry my CD library to the shops with me. I had one little device that would quite easily supply enough music to drive from Melbourne to Perth and back again! Road trips no longer required a careful selection of discs being removed from covers and placed in a specially designed travel case. Just a charged up iPod and a few playlists and I would be on the way.

** I must add that my untrained ear is unable to hear the difference in quality from CD to digital listening so I was never phased by any shift in quality. Music lovers will be mortified - but then music lovers probably won’t be reading a post about decluttering CDs!

Fast forward to now and the iPod is relegated to a dock in my daughter's room. It plays Dido “No Angel” and George Michael’s “Twenty Five - For Loving” every night, serving up the bedtime music to lull her into slumber. The two discs are kept as a “backup”. The advent of the smartphone has just about made the iPod redundant.

But what to do with the other 298 (or thereabouts) dust collecting, idle CDs? They take up space, they are no longer serving a purpose and they seem wasted just sitting there being unplayed and largely unloved. I spent hours and hours trawling the CD's to determine this fact - for 95% of my collection, I only liked one or two songs on any album.

Unfortunately if the CDs have been ripped, there’s not a lot you can do with them. Once the CD has been ripped to iTunes, Copyright Law comes into play when selling or donating the original. Even if the CD has never been copied, they can be tricky to onsell privately and second hand music stores are often inundated with decluttered music - especially of the same era as my mainstream rock and pop.

A charity shop is probably your best option. Alternately, you could bundle the CDs and list them on Freecycle or Marketplace to offload them. Calling your local library may be worthwhile although it is increasingly common to find they no longer accept donations, of music or books (unless published in the current year).

If your CDs are scratched or you are simply happy to just recycle them, some schools or preschools may take the discs for art projects. I recently saw a cool undersea “installation” in a year one classroom, using the discs as fish. As they danced in the wind their reflective surfaces looked like scales.

Kesab in South Australia suggests dropping them to your nearest Unplug&Drop location, which take all manner of electrical and electronic devices.

With more and more people using streaming services to play music, the good old CD, that completely changed the way we listened to music, is sadly, no longer as sought after.

There are still music lovers out there looking to save these discs to their own collections, but if you’re looking for a quick declutter, the op shop or the recycle depot is the easiest and quickest way to go.

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