Last month some time, I asked in light of the recent Nine Inch Nails release, what level of purchase would you use on the next Tool CD?

The results were pretty close, with the majority of people indicating they’d purchase the $300 exclusive version, and the $75 enhanced and $10 CD versions not far behind.

Somewhat surprising (to me) was the fact that only a few people indicated they’d purchase a digital only copy.  I guess this is because Tool are well know for their fancy artwork, and hence physical copies of the album would have great appeal. Personally, if Tool didn’t provide the same level of artwork on their next CD as they have on the last few, I’d purchase the digital only copy.

In regards to the NIN release model, while overall I think it’s a good model, the one package I question is the $75 enhanced edition.  To me, the extras don’t really add up to an extra $65 over the ‘normal’ version.  However, I expect this would be the copy that NIN would make the most profit from.

But one thing came to mind when I read of NIN’s release model, and that was that I actually hold little attachment to my actual CD collection.  I’ve argued with some people on various forums that I no longer feel the need to purchase CD’s, and that I’d rather purchase things digitally.  This is especially true of albums that have “standard” artwork.  While I can appreciate the work on the Aenima, Lateralus and 10,000 Days releases, what benefit is there of actually owning the Undertow CD?

Further to that, I somewhat came to the conclusion that to me, CD’s are almost dead as a release format.  In fact I’d rather own a copy of albums on vinyl, where the artwork can generaly be much better appreciated.  If Adam & the rest of Tool were to dedicate their artistic efforts towards a vinyl sized sleeve/box, I believe they could release some awesome shit.  Imagine 10,000 Days with much larger stereoscopic images.

Maybe they could go further than that.  Perhaps they could do away with releasing the music in a physical format at all, and just sell the accompanying artwork.  Lateralus or Aenima as a hardback edition for you coffee table perhaps?  Included with purchase are the rights to download FLAC encoded tracks?

I may never purchase another CD again.  To be honest the number of times I’ve listened to a CD in some kind of CD player in the last 5 years I could count on one hand.  From this point forward I’m committed to purchasing digital only copies of recordings, and only investing in physical copies where the artwork dictates.

Let me know what you all think…