IF you’re thinking of clearing out the cupboard in the back bedroom and taking a shoe box of junk to a local charity shop, just haud yir horses.

There are encouraging signs that the most disposable medium of popular ­culture – the compact disc – is refusing to die.

A survey by Discogs, the online music ­exchange site, has detected a key trend in new and second-hand music sales, which seems to imply that the mature media ­market is beginning to resist the obvious ­allure of playlists and streaming and yearns for the curatorial wholeness of the CD.

So when you least expected it, the ­compact disc is back, poised yet again to win hearts of music fans, much like vinyl records did in the its recent re-born years.

Discogs deserves some introduction in its own right. It is the favourite store of crate diggers everywhere, a massive online treasure chest of music, with a bias towards rock, soul and pop. Many use Discogs as a knowledge bank a place where they can go to check the current market price of records and tapes, or to stare open-eyed at the major collector’s items that demand the premium prices in the world of pop history. Many more use it as a place to buy a long forgotten record or plug a gap in their collection.

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Lasr week a Japanese edition of Elvis Presley’s King Creole, released in 1958 is on sale for £900, a New Orleans soul indie by Choice of Colour, big on the ­modern northern soul scene is up for grabs at around £350, and a Canadian pressing of Kate Bush’s Hounds Of Love (1985) is available for a mere £175.

Halfway through the year 2022, ­Discogs has already seen close to two million CD sales in its buy-and-sell Marketplace. ­Between 2017 and 2021, the number of CDs sold on Discogs has increased from 1.9 million to 3.9 million. If the second half of the year mirrors the first, then all previous records will be overtaken.

The big questions are how and why? How have CDs endured against all ­expectations and why are they growing in popularity again? Since 2017, the ­number of CDs listed for sale in the ­Discogs ­Marketplace has increased ­steadily each year resulting in an overall 465% ­increase. The most dramatic surge was last year in 2021.

There are other signs of life too. One is the sale of dedicated CD players, a ­device that many of us abandoned as the ­internet, streaming and new services like Spotify came of age.

Another factor is affordability. With ­rising vinyl costs, and a substantial delay in new or reisued vinyl records coming to market, original records are now too ­expensive for many, and so used CDs have become a cheaper alternative.

As households reassess and re-prioritise spending, one of the most obvious ­casualties is paid subscription services. Netflix is witnessing a slowdown in its premium services and once essential ­subscriptions like Sky Sports are now ­facing spikes in cancellation.

This is equally true of music ­streaming services too, and those that are best at paying artists, such as Tidal and Deezer, are also among the most expensive.

At a time when subscriptions are ­being ditched and people tire of ­advertising amidst their listening, one obvious ­solution is dust down your old CDs.

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Although it is hardly the most ­important trend amidst the cost of living crisis, ­ ­certainly not as marked as the rise of foodbank use and the soaring rates of full poverty, the return of the compact disc is not irrelevant.

Several online sales exchange sites have sprung up to exploit the re-sale of CDs, among them Ziffit, Music Magpie and Zapper. They mainly work through ­barcode recognition software and can give you an immediate valuation on your old collection. They buy low and sell ­higher but their very existence backs up the ­theory that CDs are not dead yet. As people look at any way they can make or save money selling CDs is an ­understandable response.

The return of the CD is at its most ­obvious on the vintage scene where young people in their twenties have become ­accustomed to shopping in charity shops, at jumbles sales, and at vintage markets. It is here among the old fur stolls, the 1950s summer frocks and the old bowling shirts, that buyers frequently come across discarded boxes of CDs. Many have ­subsequently warmed to their appeal.

Generational change is playing an ­important role too. Anecdotally, Gen X and Millennial parents are ­passing on their CD collections or regaling their ­children with nostalgic tales of the ­convenience of compact discs.

At the opposite end of the market, those that are less effected by the cost of living crisis, the high wage earners and those protected by private pensions, have their own reasons for seeking out CDs.

MANY audiophiles, mainly men in their mature years, continue to build their CD collections due to their rich sound quality. As the last prominent physical format before streaming arrived on the scene, many CDs offer a unique hi-fi listening experience, much better than the tinny sound that squeaks from a computer speaker or escapes from a mobile phone.

When CD fans are surveyed many point to yet another important part of the renewed interest – “sleeve-notes”, the sometimes extensive information stored in folded origami inside the disc case.

However much you try and no matter how advanced your search skills, services like Spotify bring you the music and ­nothing much else, an artist’s biography, social history and cultural influences are more likely to be stored in a CD cover than on a Spotify playlist.

None of these small consumer add-ons is easily available to streams. Those all pervasive digital music downloads that once threatened to wipe out our physical past are suddenly being challenged.

Many now say that they want a tactile experience with music, something they can hold, caress and cherish, most of all something they can collect.

It would be a mistake to imagine that resurgence of CDs is purely a nostalgia for the past either. Yes, the big selling baby-boom artists of the 1960s, like the Beatles, the Stones and Motown ­feature ­prominently in recently assembled ­collections, but so too do more obscure and recent artists. 

The National: Taylor SwiftTaylor Swift (Image: PA)

In fact, the artists most likely to show up in junk shops or tape exchanges are those that sold the most when CDs were the main medium of pop music. All time sales include the ubiquitous Thriller by Michael Jackson, Bodyguard by Whitney Houston and Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd, and those that came to ­market when vinyl was initially in retreat include CD albums by Eminem, Snow ­Patrol and Robbie Williams.

Much like the recent tape ­resurgence, there are quite a few Gen Z music ­collectors that are fascinated by the ­format. The release of brand-new albums on CD has influenced newer artists, like Taylor Swift, BTS, Beyoncé and Adele have all released their recent albums on the CD format. Promotional agencies readily agree that sending an influencer the gift of a CD promoting a new album, has greater “emotional” impact than ­simply emailing a link.

This flurry of new promotional ­enthusiasm has opened up the world of CDs to a whole new generation of younger collectors who like the format but are not overwhelmed by nostalgia for the past.

All of these different dynamics, some of them tiny in impact, others reflecting much bigger trends in consumerism have come together to defy logic.

Only a year ago you might ­confidently have predicted the death of the CD and viewed it as anachronistic junk, but that has changed and a format once ­committed to death-row has won a ­remarkable ­reprieve.

You may not make a fortune selling you old CDs but don’t dump them too hastily, there’s life in the old dog yet.