Blur and Smiths producer Stephen Street champions the CD format – and says bands might need them with the cost and time of pressing vinyl going up

CDs in a shop
(Image credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Blur and Smiths producer Stephen Street recently stopped by as a guest on Cambridge Audio's Made By Music podcast, but despite his landmark work with indie artists coming in the heyday of the compact disc format in the '80s and '90s, we weren't expecting him to come out championing CDs in 2023.

"I still love CDs and I still buy CDs," said Street. "I think CDs are going to be a format that a lot of the indie bands are going to have to go back to because they can't afford to get their records put on vinyl anymore."

This is an interesting point – and we've already seen cassettes make a return as a collectible item for fans who want to support bands. But unlike tape, CD offers a genuinely superior format to the admittedly more practical quality of streaming. A lot of listeners don't know what they're missing. 

"I think if people actually bother to compare a CD to a stream they'll actually remember how much better CDs sound," Street added.

"People go, 'Oh well the packaging is crap' well it doesn't have to be crap. You can make a really nice little CD booklet. No one likes those jewel cases, and also I've got a CD at home of The Pretenders album one and two, and it's this great thing; they've put it in this 12-inch package, so you're still getting the original artwork. Then you open it up and there's the CD package within it. 

"You could actually produce CDs in a 12-inch vinyl cover cheaper than the vinyl is at the moment, and people still get all the benefit of the artwork. Perhaps that's where we should be looking at. Shops sat they can't stock CDs because it doesn't fit [on] shelves. Well just put the CD in a 12-inch cover and everyone has the artwork, and they've got the CD rather than waiting for months to have your vinyl pressed up because that's the problem at the moment." 

He might be on to something here – and we'd love to see what newer artists could do with this idea. In the meantime, don't throw that Discman away! 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.