The death of the CD has been a highly anticipated event by consumers and corporations alike over the past decade, though recent statistics released by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) – the trade organisation that supports and promotes the vitality of the major music companies – indicate that the decline in sales has been a gradual one, and that physical music sales still account for a considerable chunk of the market.
A particularly recent indication that the CD is far from obsolete can be found in the fact that CDs accounted for approximately 53% of the record-breaking 1 million sales of Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience album release in its first week, according to an article published by Billboard.
The article also highlights that while the decline of CD sales in America has been consistent, with revenues falling from 77.5% to $2.5 billion in 2012 from $11.2 billion in 2003, the most damaging losses occurred in 2007 and 2008, when profits decreased by 9.4% and 17.6% respectively.
Author Glenn Peoples suggests that the “bright side” to such considerable loss is that each year these deficits become more manageable, saying, “last year, the 18.3% decline represented just $569 million in lost revenue. The smaller an annual loss in CD revenue becomes, the easier it will be for revenue from downloads, ad-supported streaming services, subscription services and vinyl sales to cover the difference.”
On the other hand, in Australia, while physical sales continue to experience a decline, it was not as sharp as in previous years. As ARIA’s report demonstrates, 2012 saw a drop of 6.42% in physical sales, while still accounting for a dominant 53.7% share of the market’s revenue, signalling that the Australian music buying public still demand CDs, DVDs, and vinyl. ARIA CEO Dan Rosen thinks the continued popularity of CD and vinyl sales, “shows Australian music fans like the tangible experience of still going to the local record store…”
Speaking to News Ltd, ARIA CEO Dan Rosen thinks the continued popularity of CD and vinyl sales, “shows Australian music fans like the tangible experience of still going to the local record store or buying a CD at a gig as a memory of the show,” he said.
“It’s got to be cultural because it’s not the case in the UK and US. And even vinyl, while the sales are small, doubled last year because I think people want that momento of their passion, their fandom,” he continued.
It’s an appropriate time for acknowledging passion for music in more traditional forms too, with Record Day Store Day just around the corner on April 20th – with a host of exclusive releases announced – an international celebration of “the art of music,” is fast approaching.
According to the recent ARIA report, the Australian music market is now the sixth biggest in the world, with 2012 physical music sales in Australia totalling 21,088,493 units worth $213,830,970, and digital sales accounting for 119,070,094 units worth $184,302,651.
Prior to this, in 2011, while physical music sales were down 13.8% on 2010 figures, they still accounted for $242 million dollars worth of revenue for the industry, highlighting the important role physical music and retail continues to play in the music buying experience of consumers.
As Billboard reports, Peoples offers a conclusive, positive vision, suggesting that in spite of long term sales depletion, the CD is likely to be around for a considerable time yet.
“Even if CD revenue drops 20% a year, the format will still have $217 million of revenues in 2023,” says Peoples. “That’s not much, but it’s over $50 million more than the $163 million done by vinyl records last year. As long as there is demand and there are manufacturers to fulfil that demand within a reasonable cost, expect to see the CD around for many more years.”