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Maintaining a CD collection in NYC


Alexander Photo Credit: Tiffany L. Clark

Maintaining a CD (or vinyl) collection in New York City takes a special kind of person. We’ve got limited space in our apartments, moving it is a nightmare and finding a good record store has become quite a chore.

But even in the age of digital downloads some remain dedicated to the round discs. We spoke with four New Yorkers about their devotion to the CD.

Alexander Smith (pictured above), approximately 2,600+ CDs

What makes you hold on to the CDs? For me — and for many people, I'd imagine — compact discs (or vinyl LPs or even cassettes) are like photographs. … In most instances with my collection, when you pull out an isolated disc, I can probably tell you where I acquired it, where I'd first heard it, where I was working at the time, who I was dating and a handful of other memories inexorably interwoven with it.  To jettison the disc would be, for me, like tearing up a photograph that serves that same end.

Have you ever considered winnowing your collection? I've tried, on occasion, to weed my garden of CDs, but it's usually a dreary affair. … My wife and I are discussing our next apartment move, and I have toyed with the idea of putting my CD's in storage for that (with two little kids in the house, space is a premium), but I worry that I'd go through some crazed separation anxiety and have a breakdown.

How do you store them? Luckily, when my wife and I moved into our current apartment, my sister had also just moved and had these five, tall wooden bookcases she was getting rid of. As fate had it, they fit into our front hall perfectly, and my wife and I divvied them up between my discs, her books and our DVDs.  Since then, I've been able to control the beast in that portion of the apartment, but it's a bit like trying to dam a river. Eventually, I'll lose and the discs will start spilling out into the rest of the apartment.

Brian Tucker, 1,000 CDs

What makes you hold on to the CDs? I like to listen to music and I never really moved on from the album format. I also am a consumer at heart. I covet the physical product, including the case and the artwork.

Have you ever considered winnowing your collection? I only have a certain amount of shelf space so anytime my CDs start to occupy other spaces, I try to spring clean.

How do you store them? I use those IKEA CD shelves. They take up a good portion of the wall in one of the rooms in my apartment. Thankfully CDs are relatively small.

Liz Hester, about 400 CDs and about 35 vinyl albums.

What makes you hold on to the CDs? If there's a cyber meltdown or if my computer is crushed in a freak accident, I want to make sure I still have the majority of my music

Have you ever considered winnowing your collection? No. When I moved to New York about five years ago, I put all the CDs in books and threw out the jewel cases, which was traumatic enough. I kept thinking about how much I would miss the art and books. It was such a big decision that I can't imagine getting rid of any of the actual CDs.

How do you store them? Space isn't the issue since my CDs are all in books. My vinyl collection is small and fits in a wooden milk crate.

Adam Rubinstein, 350-400 CDs plus 150-200 LPs

What makes you hold on to the CDs? First of all, there's really no comparison in sound quality between a CD and a compressed file download. ….  Secondly, it's fun when people come over and look through my collection of CDs and LPs and get to listen to something they might not have thought about in years.

Have you ever considered winnowing your collection? Nope. If I lost my hearing, maybe.

How do you store them? I store my CDs in their original cases, alphabetized in a closed cabinet that doubles as a piece of furniture. That was most diplomatic solution my girlfriend and I could agree on. Alphabetizing might make me sound a little compulsive, but it actually makes it easy to find whatever I'm looking for. I keep my LPs alphabetized in milk crates, but am searching for a more stable solution.

What to do with old CDs

If you've got some extra CDs lying around, but you're not as fanatical as these collectors, here are some things you can do.

• Use one as a cheap, if not difficult to catch, mini-frisbee.

• Keep them around until the people from "Hoarders" show up.

• Make them into serving trays for the world's smallest pizzas.

• Throw one in the air and yell, 'Oh my God, it's a flying saucer!'

• Use them as coasters.                  

• Play everyone's favorite role-playing game 'Hey, It's 1995!'   (Adam Ullian)


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