Quick — when was the last time you listened to music on a compact disc? If you’re like many consumers, you probably have stacks of CDs gathering dust at the back of an entertainment cabinet or boxed up in a closet. You’d like to get them all onto your computer and smartphone, but that’s a daunting task… How can you easily digitize hundreds or thousands of CDs?
CDs — a once-dominant format — have lost ground to streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora. That doesn’t mean CDs are dead — far from it. For the first time since 2011, sales of physical media surpassed digital downloads, according to new data from the Recording Industry Association of America. Physical media (which includes CDs and vinyl) declined 4 percent in 2017, compared to 25 percent for digital.
More people are streaming music, but many still want to digitize their favorite CDs
That’s good news for Jeff Tedesco, president of ReadyToPlay, a Palo Alto, California-based company that “rips,” or digitizes, CD collections. Tedesco started his company in 2004, when more and more people were making the switch to digital, thanks to MP3 players like the iPod.
While music streaming has taken a bite out of ReadyToPlay’s revenues in recent years, Tedesco’s business remains profitable and busy, ripping some 25,000-to-30,000 CDs per month for ordinary consumers and pop stars alike, including Elton John, Rod Stewart, Dave Matthews, Cyndi Lauper and Chris Isaak. Those music files are digitized at $1.30 per CD — usually in the “lossless” audio format, which offers improved sound quality over compressed, or “lossy,” music file formats like MP3.
How many gigabytes will it take to rip my CD collection?
“We typically rip in the lossless format, which consumes a large amount of data,” Tedesco explains. “We rip an average of 1,000 CDs per client, so we’re talking about 350GB to 400GB of data per job.”
To secure all that data, ReadyToPlay recently implemented a network-attached storage (NAS) system from Synology, equipped with eight 12TB Seagate IronWolf Pro hard drives. The IronWolf Pro is engineered specifically to meet the needs of multi-drive NAS systems for file-sharing, remote access and backup for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB) and creative professionals.
“We utilize almost 60TB of data at any given time to secure our customer backups and also complex CD rips,” Tedesco says. “We’re thrilled with the performance, security and the reliability of our NAS system. Our data access is fast and easy, and I have the flexibility of accessing it at any time I like.”
The 12TB IronWolf Pro delivers a workload rating of 300TB per year, a 250MB-per-second data-transfer rate, and it comes with a two-year Rescue Data Recovery Service covering data corruption, user error, mechanical damage, as well as flood and fire damage.
“Businesses like ReadyToPlay get peace of mind knowing this drive is built to handle heavy workloads,” says Jason Bonoan, Seagate global product marketing manager for IronWolf NAS HDDs. “With IronWolf Pro in a NAS system, SMBs can access their data around the clock.”
In addition to the Synology NAS system, Tedesco then stores each client’s ripped music files on a 1TB Seagate Backup Plus Slim portable hard drive — his preferred drive for USB direct-attached storage.
True lossless audio fidelity and accurate track data
ReadyToPlay has thrived as a service where demand for accurate, consistent data (information such as artists, genres, track titles and album-cover art) and true lossless audio fidelity have winnowed out many of its competitors. Tedesco credits his company’s longevity to its craftsmanship and nearly “paranoid” attention to detail. The company uses a robotic system to load hundreds of CDs for ripping, which are then hand-checked, one by one, for quality and accuracy.
“Any CDs with incorrect data are fixed on the spot or erased and re-ripped to get it exactly correct,” Tedesco says.
Ensuring your music’s metadata is intact when ripping your CDs
ReadyToPlay also reviews the entire music collection a second time to ensure consistent metadata across the collection. The company even finds each CD’s corresponding album-cover artwork by hand if necessary.
After more than 14 years of operations at ReadyToPlay, Tedesco has seen many different kinds of music collections from his customers, spanning rock and classical to country, R&B, jazz and everything in between. The most popular CD among his clients, “by far,” he says, is ABBA Gold, followed by Billy Joel: Greatest Hits. And the most popular genre among his customers is Christmas music.
“It’s the most impulsive buy and people seem to buy it over and over again each year,” Tedesco says.
But no matter which music ReadyToPlay is converting from CD to digital, one thing never changes.
“We use a lot of different technologies and infrastructure to secure our customers’ data,” Tedesco says. “Having reliable, easy to use storage is absolutely critical to our work.”