I recently got rid of my CD collection. It wasn't a big collection, as these things go: Maybe 200 discs. I didn't even need the shelf space...I just wanted to clear out an increasingly embarrassing relic of the "age of atoms."
Where am I getting my music now? There are two schools of thought--religion, really--on this question. There are the Buyers, who want to own their songs' bits and are willing to pay $.99 per track for the privilege. Buyers are usually iTunes customers.
On the other side are the Subscribers. Subscribers don't care whether they own the bits as long as they can get them on demand. Subscribers sign up for Rhapsody and get unlimited tracks--whatever's in the catalog--for about $15 per month.
Buyers point out that since subscribers don't own their tracks, they're subject to the provider's whims--whims like retracting songs (for licensing reasons) so that you can no longer listen to them (this happens) or going out of business and taking your playlists with them.
Subscribers point out that they've bought an entire catalog--a million-plus songs--that they can listen to right now--for $15 per month. Buyers will never have a collection that large even if they shell out $10,000 annually until death. One of my colleagues is a Subscriber because (as he puts it), "I have a brain." (I said this was a religious debate.)
I'm a Subscriber because I like more music than I can afford. Recovering my CD collection via iTunes would cost about $2,000--which, with Rhapsody, will buy me 11 years of access to an entire catalog. Easy decision. If my tastes were more limited--say, $200 worth of songs--I'd be a Buyer.
In any case. I'll keep my noise-cancelling headphones, case, player and spare batteries on what used to be the CD shelf, just as my DVDs reside in what used to be the VHS cabinet: Symbolic, take-no-prisoners victories for the digital juggernaut.