Walmart Is About to Cut Its CD Section In Half…

This is what Walmart’s music section currently looks like.  According to Billboard, this is going to shrink by nearly half in a few months.

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There will be almost no developing artists, at least without massive radio hits currently spinning.   Instead, most titles will be from huge, established artists, current and past, with $5 and $7 titles more commonplace.

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Which means this type of ‘higher-priced’ title will become far less common.

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And, good like finding the music section at Wal-mart…

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All photos taken by Digital Music News outside of Austin, TX.  You can use them with proper attribution under Creative Commons licensing.

Written while listening to Max Bruch.

26 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    Piracy cut record sales in half since 1999, so this sounds like the reasonable thing to do.

    • Truth

      Piracy did NOT kill the CD. Wal*mart and the labels killed the CD.

      The labels sold the same product to Wal*mart as they did to their specialty retailers (record stores) at the same time and at a lower price. And the record stores perished. Surprised?

      How long do you think it would take theaters to go out of business if films were released on Netflix on the same day as the local theater? When the theaters went out of business, would you blame piracy for that too?

      Like most people, I do not pirate music, and neither does anybody in my family. Like most people, I have 5+ CD players in my household. Like most people, I would buy a CD if it was priced fairly, contained music I liked, AND I COULD FIND A CD TO BUY. The problem is not piracy, it’s the inability to sell something to somebody. Contrary to popular belief, music does not sell itself. It is hard to do and it takes skill, creativity and resources.

      Even though CD technology is in almost 100% of U.S. households, there has been little effort spent making sure the CD survives as a format. How much marketing support do retailers get to make sure there are CDs at the point of sale? How about giving non big box retailers differentiated product? How about windowing the CD? How about selling compilation CDs containing the label’s hits? How about selling CDs direct to consumers? How about differentiated product with wholesale pricing so there is more margin for CD-only stores? (If a CD-only store could make 35-50% per disk, CD stores would probably pop up everywhere.) How about CD clubs where you could chose three new disks per month for $15? There are lots of things to try.

      Or, we could do nothing and complain that piracy is killing the business we love.

      • Anonymous

        “Piracy did NOT kill the CD”

        True. Piracy cut sales down by 50% and killed most of the industry in the process, but the CD died for other reasons.

        • Truth

          Where does your 50% come from? It’s just a guess, isn’t it? Piracy has been the crutch of people that can’t sell things for years. Once the excuses stop, people will start earning again.

          BTW, Wal*Mart, Best Buy and other big box retailers eliminated 100% of ALL of the billions in annual sales that record stores generated each year by selling $12 wholesale disks for $11.11 and $8.88. They sold hundreds of millions of units that way . . . . until they didn’t.

        • Willis

          Blaming piracy for the current state of the record biz is small-picture, short-sighted reasoning. There are a lot more things at play in this scenario. It’s just easy to point a finger at one thing.

      • Ken Sturm

        For all the Cavemen and Cavewoman CDs are a thing of the past. The 90s are over. Vinyl is back. Don’t believe? Google. All independent music stores sell vinyl now Ebay, Amazon, record sales are up 50% this year. Soon everything will be digital downloads and Vinyl for home stereo use.

    • Willis

      Nope. Nice try, but wrong. Piracy was part of the problem, but there are many other moving parts that caused the decline in sales.

  2. Minneapolis Musician

    Wanting to become a famous musician/singer today is just about as difficult as becoming a movie star.

    Makes choosing that as a career goal makes as much sense a goal of “winning a big lottery prize”.

    Do it as a sideline. Go to school so you can get a day job that you enjoy.

    — Glenn

    • Guile

      Being famous and being successful are two very different things, and what fame means today in comparison to even five years ago has totally shifted.

      While the definition of both are subjective per artist, there’s a lot of ways to slice it.

      That said, ask any who have both and they will tell you the fame came before the fortune.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      They still command billions in revenue, I believe.

    • Willis

      I do. They are smaller than record albums and sound quite good. I’m not a fan of digital. Without the physical properties of music, the value decreases. We see it with the younger crowd, hence the reason piracy has such an appeal – no value in something that cannot be seen or held.

  3. Jabsco

    CD’s are an absolutely miserable format and I couldn’t be happy to see them die.

  4. Casey

    Not terribly surprising. My nearest Walmart used to have aisles of CDs, headphone listening stations, etc. and they have been slowing chipping away at the space in favor of other electronics.

  5. Yep

    i had to check the date on this story. I thought it said 2012. Is Walmart selling music on plastic discs? Jesus! Close the whole thing down, we don’t want people (musicians) thinking you can make money from CD’s.

  6. Fridge

    I have several thousand CDs and at one point in the 90s traded in my Records for CDs. The format is dead, I have stopped buying CDs now going back to Vinyl and most records come with a download card and you are all set.

    • Eightysix

      Must be nice to be rich! LPs (if they exist for the “album” you are looking for) typically run $20-25 these days.

  7. DJ Todd

    It’s piracy and convenience.

    First, ask anyone under the age of 22 if they would buy a CD or download it for free? They brag about not having to spend money on music and see no value in supporting the artists. For people in this demographic, it’s all about THEM.

    For the individuals who purchase music, it’s convenience. It’s immediately available on your phone. People don’t want to wait anymore or waste time going to the store or wait to receive it in the mail. We’ve become accustomed to a very low attention span, and if we can’t have it now, we don’t get it. Box retailers will very seldom choose to sell releases most people are looking for. Retailers partner with the major labels to sell what THEY consider popular music.

    Also, picking where you want to have your CD showcased on the sales floor or POS in any retailer is not that easy. They have planograms that they stick by and could care less about where your music is displayed. In their mind, you should just be happy they’re carrying your product.

    • Eightysix

      To quote George Carlin,

      “Some people are really f*cking stupid!” And far too many under-30 fit that description too well.

  8. thebabyguy

    The decline in sales progressed over a number of years. It used to be a record company could get a CD (non-superstar) with ease. Then they had to throw advertising $ at it. Then the stores cut back further. Then it got so bad the companies were glad just to get the title into the store’s/one-stop’s database. The accounts didn’t even want to put the info into their systems – that’s how bad it got. At least – in theory – a customer could walk into a store and special order a title. It could take a month or much longer to get it. Then that ended. That opened the floodgates for folks like Amazon. Access to just about everything and fast delivery. Even they offer free digital access to many CDs the moment you order it. That killed off more stores and forced the big box retailers to drastically cut back on their selections. It a store can’t turn over their stock on an item – any item – they aren’t going to continue to carry that item. Floor space is just too valuable.

  9. PB

    I think it’s safe to say the wal mart and Target has done just as much damage to the industry as piracy ever did. If more people understood how that process worked we would here it spoken about more often. Your average label employee doesn’t even fully understand it unless they mingle with the sales & distro folks.