HomeCD JunkiesCD Junkies: Collector Alex Aubuchon

CD Junkies: Collector Alex Aubuchon

360°Sound’s long-running series CD Junkies continues to bring our readers exclusive interviews with CD collectors from around the world. Our latest CD Junkie is Alex Aubuchon, 32, from Detroit, Michigan. A staunch defender of the much-maligned jewel case, Aubuchon is host of The CD Collectors Podcast, “the podcast about music, merchandise, and all things physical media through the CD collector’s perspective.” The CD Collectors Podcast is available wherever you get your podcasts. Aubuchon is also drummer of the Detroit-based melodic death metal band Asylence.

360°: What was the first CD you ever bought?

Alex Aubuchon: The first CD that I personally bought was R.E.M.’s New Adventures in Hi-Fi. My parents frequently spun R.E.M. when I was a kid and I dug them. My mom took my sister and me to buy tickets for a concert at a record shop when I was 7. I was bored and asked a clerk if they had the newest R.E.M. CD. He handed it to me and that pretty much kicked things off. I don’t have my original copy, but that album is in my collection to this day.

Approximately how many discs do you have in your collection?

That’s a bit of a complicated question. I have a bunch of rules for my collection. One of which is I exclusively display standard single-size jewel cases on my shelf. That’s holding right around 2,000. Some of those are double-disc, a couple are triple, and there’s a handful of maxi singles in there too so quantify that as you will. I’m really taking a shot in the dark if I guess on the digipaks, sleeves, box sets and soundtracks that I store, but I’d guess anywhere from 800-1,000 on those.

What do you love about the CD format?

For the music collector, it’s the ultimate format. Let’s put aside the audio quality conversation. The overall price point is super accessible, even to higher-end collectors. Artwork, while smaller than its vinyl counterpart, is still there, and I’d argue more versatile with booklets and creative use of tray cards. You can go crazy with digipak and box sets.

And I can’t say enough for the jewel case. Look at the world of collecting trading cards, action figures, and comic books. All these markets use hard shell plastic cases for their prized items. CDs have that protection built in with the jewel case (one of many reasons I find the digipak inferior). There’s something super satisfying too about buying a used CD that looks beat up from the outside, washing the smudges off the disc, and slipping the liner notes and tray card into a fresh case and making that used CD brand new again.

Tell us about The CD Collectors Podcast. What inspired it?

I present The CD Collectors Podcast as “the show about music, merchandise, and all things physical media through the CD collector’s perspective.” During the pandemic I found myself turning to more and more YouTube and podcast content. With no real interest going in, I got hooked on a YouTuber, Marty’s Matchbox Makeovers, who collects, repairs, and repaints matchbox cars, and The Major Wrestling Figure Podcast, which is about pro wrestling action figure collecting. There’s a surprising amount of commonality between those and CD collecting.

I thought “why not do a podcast focusing on the collecting aspect specifically?” It seemed like a pretty under-served market. On the show, I open with a short monologue, transition into what CDs I bought that week and what showed up in the mail, and I close with an interview.

My guests so far have been tremendous. I’ve had YouTubers, podcasters, musicians, audiophiles, and collectors. It’s been super rewarding so far, and I think I’m finally getting my sea legs as an interviewer. People have been very generous with their time, super friendly, and enthusiastic. I couldn’t ask for a better start.

Which CDs have been getting lots of spins lately?

The deeper I get into collecting the harder it is to get repeat listens in. The stack of new CDs tends to outpace my free listening time and the music world is so saturated with so much quality. I will say one of the big standouts for me this year has been Grind by A Deer A Horse. It’s the perfect blend of 2000s New York indie, early 90s quirky alt-rock, and punk, while still managing to be its own thing. Hits me in all my feels from my major genre phases throughout my life.

Is there a particular type of CD you seek out?

I’m a jewel-case-at-all-costs guy. Between limited run, promos, first or secondary editions, and imports, I’m doing everything I can to complete discographies exclusively in jewel case. Last year, I completed St. Vincent’s discography in jewel case via U.S. industry promos and imports from Europe, South Africa, and Japan. I also regularly import from Brazil and Australia. I have a network of international vendors I work with, which is probably a lot less intense than it sounds and exactly as nerdy as it sounds.

What are your thoughts on the future of the CD?

It’s really hard to predict if the next generation is going to have an interest in physical entertainment, really of any kind. What the CD has working for it is its affordability, not only to the consumer but for the artist. A short run of CDs is pretty cheap. They’re small enough to carry around to shows and ship easily.

The way I see it, the future of the CD is in the hands of independent artist and fan support. Limited runs, special editions, variant covers and packaging. Focus on making a desirable product that attracts collectors because the average music listener is already lost to streaming. If there’s money to be made there, the major labels will follow suit and the CD will have a long life.

Bonus Alert: Here’s the latest music video from Asylence, “My Legacy,” featuring Aubuchon on the drums:


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