We spent the weekend analyzing recent CD sales drops, while attempting to answer one question:
The question is difficult for a number of reasons. The format is obviously in decline, though actual declines themselves vary per year. That said, most year-over-year dips are in the double-digit percentages. During the first-half of this year, the decline was 11.4 percent according to Nielsen Soundscan; between 2007 and 2010 it was somewhere within the 18-20 percent (negative) range.
But what if sales remained at the current pace for 2012, with sales declines accelerating by 5 percent every year thereafter? Well, according to that somewhat conservative assumption, the CD is then effectively dead by 2022.
Which matters, because of this...
Underuse Sunday, July 08, 2012
If you think about it the CASSETTE was still going until a few years ago thanks to truckers and some die hards.
Greg Sunday, July 08, 2012
I am surprised the cd has lasted THIS long
jeremy.gold Monday, July 09, 2012
Simplest/hardest solution to the problem: make sure people are going to like every damn song you put on that album you want to put out.
@tobbe12points Monday, July 09, 2012
Faith of the cassette...
@katvime Monday, July 09, 2012
Aun recuerdo el cassette.
@discosdekirlian Monday, July 09, 2012
Antes muera, antes se volverá a poner de moda.
mcrein Monday, July 09, 2012
while all that may be true in our part of the world, legacy technology is very much alive and well in the underdeveloped world. when i was working in the hinterlands of africa last year, i routinely saw cassette boom boxes attached to cheap chinese solar panels. they were used not only to listen to music or talks, but also as sound reinforcement!
when we're finished with CD players we'll do what we've always done; dump them in africa. there, millions of people will now doubt use them for decades to come. unless they leap frog over us and go straight to mobile. which is actually happening...
Tone Monday, July 09, 2012
"while all that may be true in our part of the world, legacy technology is very much alive and well in the underdeveloped world. when i was working in the hinterlands of africa last year, i routinely saw cassette boom boxes attached to cheap chinese solar panels. they were used not only to listen to music or talks, but also as sound reinforcement!"
That may be true but shipping antequated CDs to Africa will not keep the technology relevant and profitable...
"when we're finished with CD players we'll do what we've always done; dump them in africa. there, millions of people will now doubt use them for decades to come. unless they leap frog over us and go straight to mobile. which is actually happening..."
This paragraph is a contradiction.
lifer Monday, July 09, 2012
maybe the riaa can sue the hinterland dwellers for unlicensed blah blah blah...
Long gone Monday, July 09, 2012
The disc would last longer if retailers would stock, but the lack of selection in stores is forcing consumers to migrate to digital regardless of their preference....or worst case, migrate to another form of entertainment!
wallow-T Monday, July 09, 2012
I don't believe retailers have an ideology here: if the physical discs still sold, retailers would stock them. (For that matter, if physical discs still sold, lots of retailers wouldn't have closed.) An insider at Borders (RIP) told me around 2008 that CDs were the chain's slowest-selling product category. I've seen a rumor (yay rumor!) that Barnes & Noble wants to be out of CDs in two years: there are old news reports that B&N has tested the removal of music departments in some stores.
My personal note: the nearest all-category CD stores to me are 40 and 75 miles from home, even though I live in the suburbs of a major metro area. Nearly all of my buying is Internet mail-order.
jelnet Monday, July 09, 2012
The CD is dead. Long live the CD!
Jeff Monday, July 09, 2012
Mainstream CDs may be gone by then, but they will live on in the niche genres like Jazz, Metal, Classical and Indie.
Anthony Polis Monday, July 09, 2012
We need genre/demographic data to supplement this. CDs are still selling in large numbers but who's buying them? I'm 28 living in LA and I don't know anyone my age who's bought a CD in the last year. Is that just my circle or representative of a larger trend?
paul Monday, July 09, 2012
I wish I had access to this detailed data, to the extent that it's available. But you can see some case studies that suggest much larger attachment to the CD among older demographics. For example, Susan Boyle has been able to rally huge profits from CDs and largely traditional means, while Lady Gaga has been a social networking workhorse with far less revenue payoff (pound for pound).
Additionally, a major reason for the 'kick' in 2011 that you see is the legacy, catalog artist. A lot of older titles are getting seriously discounted, and driving unit sales increases.
@sean___ Monday, July 09, 2012
The entire music industry will barely go platinum that year.
@fnkshui Monday, July 09, 2012
Surprised it's lasted this long!?
@jonbaltz Monday, July 09, 2012
10 more years of CDs? Who owns a CD player?
@whemradio Monday, July 09, 2012
I think the CD's dies way before 2012... but then again they are still making cassette tapes in some parts of the world.
Tone Monday, July 09, 2012
I'm sure there's a company selling bell-bottoms too. Your point...?
John Stringer Monday, July 09, 2012
Not surpised. The CD is still a staple at live shows for indie live performing artists (and others). We know b/c we report many of their live venue sales to Soundscan.
@alex_esser Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Gotta wait another 10 years until you'll be able to say "I've got it on CD" and sound hipster.
Jason Feinberg Tuesday, July 10, 2012
This chart could be spot-on.
Or the CD could be "dead" in 5 years via the self fulfilling prophecy and cyclical nature of shrinking floor space resulting in less sales, resulting in shrinking floor space, resulting in less sales, resulting...
And when Starbucks decides bananas are more valuable per square inch of counter space. And when Hot Topic decides bullet-belts are more valuable per square foot of floor space..
But having said all that, I don't think this chart is what it will look like. As we see often in the D2C and non-pop genre worlds, quality physical product often moves as much or more than ever. Many artists and labels have more distribution avenues, more direct marketing methods, and fan bases - even younger - that still value something tangible.
We'll continue to see a decline - almost certainly increasing in speed, but I always hesitate to use the word "dead." It will simply be relegated to online sales, non-trad retail, tour product, and other non-standard avenues.