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John Lamb, Published April 10 2012

Lamb: Waving goodbye to CD release shows

What: Shape then Shift CD release show

When: 6:30 – 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday

Where: The Red Raven Espresso Parlor, 916 Main Ave., Fargo,

Info: This is an all-ages show with a $5 cover. (701) 478-7337

Michael Weiler celebrates the release of his new CD with special shows Friday and Saturday night at the Red Raven Espresso Parlor in downtown Fargo.

But if you want to get your hands on a copy of “Sleeper,” you better come ready to buy.

Weiler, a Fargo indie-pop musician, only pressed about 100 copies of the second album he’s recorded under the stage name Shape then Shift.

“Once I sell out, I’m done,” the singer/guitarist says.

He may press a few more if there is high demand, but it’s an odd move, to be sure. And Weiler’s not trying to create high demand for a limited edition product. He just knows people don’t buy CDs any more.

So it’s kind of a CD release show and a CD farewell show all in one.

It isn’t news to anyone that the music business is floundering and CD sales have been plummeting for years.

But if CDs continue to go the way of vinyl records (minus vinyl’s minor re-emergence every decade), the cassette tape and the 8-track, will CD release shows also become a thing of the past?

An aside: Were there ever 8-track release parties? If so, did they abruptly switch every two songs?

Local CD release shows have covered everything from folk artists to punk acts over a decade ago.

Such launch parties used to be a big thing. For bigger buzz bands CD release shows were lavish parties where celebrities were spotted and rumors started.

Bands would rent out clubs and either play their new songs live, or pump it through a stereo so everyone heard the recorded version.

I remember reading about Metallica packing Madison Square Garden with head-banging fans and blasting out an advance version of some album. I can’t recall the title, but I’m assuming if Metallica had enough fans to pack the Garden, it was before 2003’s pitiful “St. Anger.”

In other words, big CD-release parties were something you did when you were a star with a record company paying your bills.

As technologies have improved over the past two decades, it’s become easier for individuals to make and record music at home. Technology has made it easier for individuals to press mass quantities at an affordable price. And as everyone’s aunt with a digital camera and photo shop knows, everyone is now a designer and can make a CD cover and booklet.

The problem is, as more people find it easier to produce a song, they become less interested in creating a whole album.

“People don’t put out discs anymore,” Weiler says. “They put out singles. They put out ringtones.”

And who is going to throw a party for a new ringtone? It would be a short night for sure.

Though, if Metallica’s next release is only a few seconds long, that would be a reason to party.