Greg Cooper was going through a marriage break-up the day he decided to sell his CDs.
The 1,000-piece collection had been two decades in the making. But seeing it there, filling a shelf almost as tall as him, he decided it was time to be “cut-throat”. Everything must go.
“I was pretty exhausted, mentally and physically, packing up an entire house, and had had a few wines and wrote this quite heart-felt eBay listing that went through my life, really, through the CD collection.”
There was the more mainstream Green Day and Foo Fighters — “stuff you listen to when you are 13 in 1996” — all the way through to the rare punk and hip-hop of his 20s and 30s.
“It was kind of quite cathartic, actually, and made me feel a lot better about letting go of the past,” Mr Cooper, 35, said.
Pretty soon, he was loading a bundle of 800 compact discs into a stranger’s car, $1,050 richer.
“It was quite a weird experience.”
The question of what to do with your CD collection — throw out, sell, store for posterity — is one music fans everywhere are having to consider.
CD players are becoming rarer in homes and cars, as the take-up of streaming continues to surge.
But like we did with the recent vinyl revival, will we come to regret getting rid of our CDs — and everything they say about us?
‘I’ve kept them because I’m not sure if I want to part with them’
Francesca Von Schreibern has spent 12 years building a collection — mostly New Zealand dub, reggae and hip hop, plus some 70s rock and (she’s embarrassed to admit) a little bit of pop.
For the past four years, that collection has been boxed up, gathering dust. She no longer owns a CD player.
“Records, there’s something romantic about them,” Ms Von Schreibern, 41, who lives in Sydney, said. “A CD just doesn’t have that same quality.”
She placed an advertisement on Facebook — “Time To Get Rid Of My CDs!” — but has so far had no interest.
While she’s keen to clear some space, she admits to a pang of wistfulness about actually doing the deed.
“I’ve kept them in boxes for years, so I haven’t touched them,” she said.
“I’ve kept them because I’m not sure if I want to part with them. I’m just a bit unsure if I am ready.”
For every seller, there must be a buyer
Not everyone is getting rid of their CDs.
Scott Thurling, a longtime music fan in his early 40s, started collecting through record clubs in high school.
The growth of his collection — about 10,000 titles, mostly guitar pop, folk and new wave — has slowed in recent years, but continues, mostly as he takes on the stuff his friends want to get rid of.
“I might offer them a nominal amount, it might be $100 for 100 CDs, or 200 CDs,” Mr Thurling said.
“No-one has high expectations of a high dollar value from the collections I’ve bought. It’s just finding a good home for them.”
Though he does subscribe to Spotify and Apple Music, he admits he doesn’t easily let go of a lot of “music-related things”. The walls of his home, in the Melbourne suburb of Mitcham, feature gig posters taken from pubs over the years. And he’s got his old CD Walkman, though he doesn’t use it much anymore.
“There may be a stage where I bring myself to purge some of the CDs, knowing that they are living on digitally if I needed to hear them again,” he said. “But we are not at that stage yet.”
If he doesn’t, his nine-year-old daughter might.
“She looks with bemusement at my collection. I keep saying ‘you are going to own these one day’ and she says ‘I am selling them Dad, as soon as you are gone’.”
‘The CD is not a beautiful looking thing’
Mr Cooper, for his part, doesn’t think he’s going to miss his collection — and doubts that, like vinyl, the CD will come roaring back into the popular consciousness.
“The dual cases are ugly as hell, they break, they get all scratched up,” he said. “The CD is not a beautiful looking thing.
“The artwork on some of them is great but it’s like 10cm by 10cm. It’s not something you want to put on your wall and admire.”
If he’s ever feeling nostalgic, he said, he just searches YouTube or Spotify.