Best Buy Will Stop Selling CDs Effective July 1st — and Target Is Next

Best Buy interior
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Best Buy interior
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photo: Rob Lawton (CC 2.0)

The era of CDs is coming to an end as the digital age continues to take over. Best Buy, one of the largest electronics retailers in the United States, has announced that it will no longer be selling CDs in its stores. According to a report by Billboard, Best Buy plans to completely abandon the CD format by July 1st, and the phase-out is already starting, with all Best Buy locations likely to be scrubbed of the format in a matter of months.

This announcement comes as no surprise as CD sales have been declining for several years. In 2017, CD sales tanked 16.3 percent to 104.8 million units in the US, according to Nielsen. That’s down from 125 million, with 2018 likely to produce a sub-100 million sales year. This is quite a fall from the heyday of the late-90s and early-2000s when CDs were drawing tens of billions in revenues. In fact, at one point, CDs accounted for more than 95% of all recorded music sales.

+ The Vinyl Records ‘Fad’ Has Been Going Strong for 12 Straight Years

While Best Buy is ditching CDs, it is interesting to note that the company plans to continue selling vinyl records, right next to high-selling turntables. The vinyl format remains high-growth, thanks to a decade-long nostalgia boom that shows no sign of abating. This is a major shift towards the past, as vinyl has been making a comeback in recent years, with sales increasing every year. In 2017, vinyl sales in the US reached a record high of 14.32 million units, up 9 percent from the previous year, according to Nielsen.

The double-whammy from Best Buy and Target represents a serious blow to major recording labels. Only a few years ago, Best Buy, Target, and Walmart competed for juicy album exclusives. That included CD and vinyl releases from the likes of Taylor Swift and AC/DC, with the foot traffic proving valuable to the winning bidder. However, now the number of people that will actually be drawn into those splashy exclusives is declining.

Target is also considering something similar to Best Buy. In fact, the retail giant is apparently deciding to only carry CDs ‘on consignment,’ meaning that Target only pays if the CD itself sells. That’s a very hard bargain, though apparently major labels and suppliers are considering the deal. “If the majors don’t play ball and give in to the new sale terms, it could considerably hasten the phase down of the CD format,” Billboard noted.

This shift in the music industry is not only affecting retailers but also musicians. The transition from CDs to digital downloads and streaming services has caused a major shift in the way that musicians make money from their music. In the past, record labels made most of their money from the sale of CDs. However, with the decline of CDs, musicians are now relying more on streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music to make money from their music.

While the decline of CDs is not surprising, it is interesting to see how quickly the format has become obsolete. It was not that long ago that CDs were the main form of music distribution. However, with digital downloads and streaming services, the format has become redundant. It is clear that the music industry is constantly changing, and it will be interesting to see what the future holds.

3 Responses

  1. Nancy

    I only listen to cd’s!!!! What the hell! Where am i going to get them? I’m not on the internet for a reason ( has caused relation problems) . Please keep selling them !!!!