End of an Era at Sony CD Plant

It’s hardly news that Internet downloading is killing the sales of music CDs, but who knew that this trend would strike a blow to the economy of South Jersey? Yet that’s exactly what’s happening with the closure later this month of Sony’s CD manufacturing plant in the Gloucester County town of Pitman.

OK, I’ll admit it: I didn’t even know Sony had a CD plant in South Jersey. The Pitman facility opened in 1960 to produce vinyl records, switching to CDs in 1988. Back then the plant was churning out as many as 18 million CDs per month. Those days are long gone.

In a prepared statement, Lisa Gephardt, a spokeswoman for the company, said the closure is due to “challenges facing the physical media industry.” No kidding. Consider that Showroom of Compassion, the most recent album by the band Cake, debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard Top 200 pop album chart in January, selling just over 44,000 copies. That’s the lowest-selling No. 1 pop album in Nielsen SoundScan’s history of tracking album sales.

I download music, but I still listen to vinyl and enjoy the pacing of a full-length work, not to mention the cover art and liner notes. It’s a shame that all that is sacrificed to the speed and immediacy of downloading.

That grievance aside, the closing of Sony’s Pittman factory on March 31 is going to cost about 300 New Jersey jobs. Even though this closure has been a slow train coming, the shock of it arriving is going to hit some families hard.

“For the last 10 years there have been rumors that Sony was leaving Pitman, but they always came back with something,” Pitman Borough Council president Russ Johnson told the Gloucester County Times. “Unfortunately, now it is a reality.”

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