What to do with Old Tapes and CDs

Feel like the only Deadhead on the block who doesn't carry their entire music collection around on some tiny hundred-dollar device in their pocket? Technological advances have rendered cassette tapes near-obsolete, with compact discs not far behind. And yet, if you're like me and many other hardcore Grateful Dead fans, it's just too painful to part ways completely with all those old Maxell tapes of live Dead shows. Perhaps it's sentimentality for the memories associated with the tape-trading days of long ago. Or maybe it's just the idea of wasting so much awesome music that I can't bear. Sometimes I suspect I rather enjoy the tinny, hollow, far-away sound that is the trademark of the once glorified cassette. Whatever the motivations behind the madness, I insist on holding on to all my old cassettes and compact discs, “for the archives,” if nothing else!

Still, if your music collection is taking over a large percentage of your home, it's a good idea to clear up some space, and converting your music into an easier to store digital formula can do it. There are software programs available that allow for fairly easy transfer of music from a cassette tape onto a computer. With a simple cable connecting the output jacks on your tape player to the input jack or USB port on your computer, the data from the tape is moved onto the computer where the file can then be converted into an mp3 or other convenient format.

If this sounds a bit complicated, there are many audio/visual businesses that will perform this service at a fairly reasonable cost. Ask friends for recommendations, or check your local telephone directory to find one.

Once you're music collection has been duplicated into a more convenient, modern format, you can pack away those towering stacks of tapes and cds in all their jewel-cased splendor. You'll want to store both tapes and cds vertically, with the disc or cassette standing upright rather than laying flat. Place them into large plastic bins with tight-fitting lids, and keep in a climate-controlled area like a closet or rented air conditioned storage facility.

Moving into the digital age does take a little time and effort, but it's worth it for so many reasons. Not only will you have the peace of mind of knowing that your music collection is fully backed up and protected, you'll probably also find yourself listening to music more often. When the whole world of Grateful Dead music is all right there and ready to go at the push of a button, no rewinding or cleaning off smudge spots required, who doesn't have time to rock?