The CD is dead? Long live the CD!

Approximately two weeks ago, some blogs announced the death of the CD in 2012, with some rumours that major record labels will stop producing and distributing CDs in 2012. Such a big announcement for a medium which still is responsible for the largest income stream of the recording industry. In that moment, when I read this article about the CD death, I was quite sure that these are only some rumours to arouse the discussion of CD vs Digital.

German music business magazine published an article now on their website with the information that a recent study forecasted that CDs have a longer life than expected generally. It still is responsible for 2/3 of income from record sales.

From my point of view, the CD will be with us for many more years. Obviously, it won’t grow anymore because the main consumption method is based on digital files or streaming, but the CD offers values, which digital files don’t provide. CDs function as collection and identification project for fans. Therefore, special deluxe versions, which offer an added value to the digital copy, will attract fans in the future as well.

The interest for physical records was also showed by some consumers, who I interviewed for my PhD thesis. Only a few have completely switched their consumption to digital files only. But the others were much into purchasing CDs of their favourite artists or brands (such as compilations). For them, this is a matter of collection, fandom, identification, and the feeling “I support the artist with this more than with digital purchases”.

For digital consumption, a new study was published with some interesting forecast information for digital downloads and subscription services. Despite of growing in this area, digital income streams won’t compensate the decreasing CD sales, according to this study. So, there is the need to monetise new channels and areas, where music is used, especially in the digital world (e.g. Youtube). But WITH the CD as great opportunity to offer added value to the fans, which digital files do not provide!

And I personally will keep on buying albums.

Long live the CD!

Update (01.12.2011): German Music Business magazine has just done a survey about the CD and its future. 45 % think, it will remain a major device and income stream for the recording industries over the next years. 28 % also agree, but expect digital income become more important than CD sales soon. The rest expect the CD to be past soon.

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