Declining CD Sales (Wall Street Journal front page article)
Mar 22, 2007 at 9:05 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 71


Headphoneus Supremus
Apr 15, 2003
The numbers are out and they are dismal. However, while the music industry wails about online pirating via P2P and even MySpace... this article quite correctly points out that there is a shift in how consumers buy music. They don't go into a store or feel the need to own a piece of media anymore. The article also points out that the closing of specialty retailers - like Tower Records, Strawberries and other transworld outlets - is fueling the 20% decline in CD sales.

Link to story:
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Mar 22, 2007 at 9:36 PM Post #2 of 71
D*mn! After 20 years of aural irritation I finally found a CDP I could afford and can happily live with, the Rega Apollo, and now the whole medium goes out of style?!! Life isn't fair.
Mar 22, 2007 at 10:18 PM Post #3 of 71
Maybe, with the rise of internet communies such as this, people are finding the sort of music that is deep enough to warrant repeated listening. It is also possible that the same shift in taste has broadened musical horizons and encouraged listeners to buy music from smaller labels more difficult to assess. The dismal sales of the #1 albums suggest this, among other things.
Mar 23, 2007 at 1:54 AM Post #4 of 71
The truth is that sales from the indie labels are on the rise. The music industry is becoming more fragmented. The big labels model of signing a small number of artists and promoting them over the radio is an out of date business model. No doubt the RIAA will continue to point to piracy, but the truth is that people started moving away from their business model over 5 years ago.
Mar 23, 2007 at 7:55 AM Post #5 of 71

Originally Posted by dura /img/forum/go_quote.gif
D*mn! After 20 years of aural irritation I finally found a CDP I could afford and can happily live with, the Rega Apollo, and now the whole medium goes out of style?!! Life isn't fair.

Remember when vinyl went out of style?

Don't worry, there are still millions of releases for you to listen to. CDs will be around for the rest of our lifetimes.

As for sales, well, I've been buying a few discs a week lately. I don't much like the iTunes Store or any of the lossy formats. Red Book is OK, but I much prefer SACD and vinyl. I'll keep buying as long as there's quality music to listen to.
Mar 23, 2007 at 12:42 PM Post #9 of 71
I'm glad the article touched on issues outside of piracy for contributing to the decline. IMO, video game systems and DVDs have contributed as much or more for declining sales. If you think about it, even 10 years ago, new release movies on VHS were $100+, home theaters were only starting to get a foothold in the market, and video game consoles were much more of a niche market. So then, there was little competition for your in-home entertaining dollar. Now, DVDs cost only a little more than CDs when first released, and can be had for significantly less in the "bargin bins" at larger retailers within 6 months. When was the last time you saw a CD deeply discounted months after its release? So it's pretty easy to justify picking up two of your favorite movies instead of a CD. And games are a huge drain on peoples' entertainment budgets... One new release game can cost as much as 3-5 CDs. So you have an expanding entertainment market, and the music industry has done nothing to make its product more appealing. And that's to say nothing of the quality of much of the new releases! Though there is some amazing music being made... you just have to look a little harder to find it.

Don't get me wrong, illegal downloading has hurt the bottom line, but there are far more factors than the record industry wants to consider.
Mar 23, 2007 at 1:06 PM Post #10 of 71
I can also see another trend that could contribute to declining CD sales. I listened to all genres of music from Pop, Indie, rock, jazz all the way to classical. I used to buy a bunch of CDs and a lot of them ended up having not a lot of play time since, especially for rock and pop, I enjoyed a few songs but not the entire albums.
With the online music stores and even full albums stream sites, I can really pinpoint the few albums I really want to own on CD. As a result, I don't buy as much. I download a lot, listen and determine the ones that are keepers and worth to be bought.
Mar 23, 2007 at 1:13 PM Post #11 of 71
Music piracy is no doubt destroying the music industry. Fortunately, that industry has nothing to do with music. There has no doubt been an explosion of sales outside of Soundscan's reach, plus fans have more money to spend on shows which is really what helps them out.

I was listening to a radio program about SXSW the other day, and even the bands there were saying that had very little interest in being signed. That is no longer the way to go to promote your music. Real bands making real music now do it completely outside the industry.

For years and years the big music companies turned their product into a throwaway commodity that could be easily marketed. And now people view it as a simple throwaway and the companies are reaping what they sow. If they made any attempt to make music that mattered to people, this wouldnt be a problem.
Mar 23, 2007 at 2:15 PM Post #12 of 71
Several things have contributed to the decline, but it's not just digital downloads (legal or illegal). A number of studies have been done on that issue.

Many music store chains are no longer in existance. Online sales have taken over. CD sales have also changed from a specialized store to combination book and music store. The advent of Amazon found bookstores fighting to compete for book sales and adding music to supplement sales. However, the lower costs that large providers like Amazon can provide, combined with free shipping, still force smaller outfits to struggle to compete.

Another factor is that at the advent of CDs, many people began to replace thier vinyl, cassette and other format libraries over roughly a twenty year period. Those libraries are now updated, providing another contribution to the dropoff. Add in people spending part of their entertainment budget on gaming and DVD and sales drop further.

"...In 1999 38,900 individual titles were released in the US. The number of releases fell by 30% by 2001 when only 27,000 titles were released. With fewer titles on the market the number of units sold is bound to decrease as well." [BBC News]

If you add all this in with the tough economy of the last few years, it is quickly evident that there is more than one reason CD sales are declining.

CDs are still at the forefront of all music sales and will be for some time. The only thing occuring is the RIAA whining, like a child about a paper cut, instead of making internal changes to match the outside ones. Other industries and companies have taken the worldly changes, the proverbial "bull by the horns", and turned it into a profitable enterprise. Why can't the music industry?
Mar 23, 2007 at 2:42 PM Post #13 of 71

CDs will survive yet another year if someone still needs a hard physical copy of their music or data. It still outsells digital downloads. For wealthy G8 industrialized nations, both CD sales and digital downloads can co-exist.
Mar 23, 2007 at 6:19 PM Post #14 of 71
I won't touch digital downloads until they go lossless and non-drm. The fact that CDs exist mean they will continue to exist because they are, IMO, superior to rights-restricted, poor quality downloads.

I just wish people would join me in making paid music downloads a failure until the industry gives our rights to ownership back.
Mar 23, 2007 at 9:24 PM Post #15 of 71

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