An Idolator Obit: The Promo CD May Be Watermarked For Death

The promotional compact disc died last week of technological causes. It was fifteen years old.

Though the discs were popular with both record labels (who used them to ensure writers would hear upcoming albums) and music critics (who used them to ensure they could get a $250 trade-in credit at Amoeba Records), promotional CDs have slowly been phased out due to piracy concerns: Last November, Universal introduced a digital-only system, providing listeners the opportunity to make fun of Sam’s Town in a whole new format; Capitol Records is introducing a similar program this month.

“We think this will cut down on Internet piracy,” a Capitol Records publicist said with a laugh, before breaking down in tears.

The eventual shift from disc to digital is “a shame,” says one music critic, who wished to remain anonymous. “For years, I could measure my critical worth by staring at the pile of discs in front of me. Anybody can get on the indie mailings, but if you were on the Rhino reissue list or the double-mailing Sub Pop circuit, you knew you’d made it.”

“You also knew that when taxes came around, you could turn four boxes of Sony crap into $500, easy. Or so I’ve heard.”

A wake will be held next week in New York City, when Universal Records plays the new Kaiser Chiefs record to a few hundred music writers and bloggers at a listening party. “I plan to look around awkwardly and maybe nod during the slow parts,” the writer said.

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