As anyone with the slightest interest in music will tell you, vinyl sales are on the rise, and streaming and digital formats are taking over. But there is rarely any mention of the CD – once the new kid on the block, but now the uncool uncle who nobody talks to at the family wedding. With this in mind, you might think that the CD is going the way of the dodo – but are we all writing off the humble compact disc a little early?
Still the king of physical formats
Digital downloads and streaming have had an enormous impact on sales of physical music mediums. There’s no denying that those physical formats are declining in numbers, but they still make up a healthy proportion of global music sales – almost 40% during 2015. And despite the rise of vinyl sales – which is wholly welcomed by most people with a love of music – the CD is still by far-and-away the biggest seller in this sector.
A product in your hands
The CD still has an appeal for music lovers because it is a physical product, much like vinyl. You can buy an actual copy of something, pore over sleeve notes and artwork, and as long as you look after it and keep it free from damage, it will last you a lifetime. No matter how affordable or accessible digital formats are, they are something of an illusion – it’s just data you are buying, even if it is data that sounds fantastic.
The collector’s item
Music lovers are, by their nature, collectors. While the mainstream and those that listen to music as a distraction more than anything else are happy to be fed their tunes, music lovers actively seek it out. They take pride in their collections, and that goes for vinyl and CD fans alike.
Perfect for bands and musicians
The amount of music being produced these days is causing a huge problem for up and coming bands who struggle to get noticed in an increasingly noisy musical landscape. One of the ways that new bands and musicians are getting their names out there is playing life – and selling CDs after the event is a great way to get physical products into the hands of new fans. It’s cheap to do, too. Bands can produce and master their own music in the comfort of their home and bulk buy from the likes of Nationwide Disc, which all helps keep the costs down.
The DJs friend
Once CDs started to enter the clubs, it was hard to see a future for vinyl. If only because it meant that DJs could finally travel without lugging a few heavy boxes packed with records to every gig. And, for a while, there was a school of thought that once digital DJing sorted itself out, the CD would vanish from the scene entirely, too, to be replaced by the likes of Ableton, Traktor and laptops. As it is turning out, however, there appears to be a slight backlash against all those controllers and software. It’s taken a lot of the fun and physical aspects away from the art of DJing, and while few big names will ever go back to records, many are either still using – or going back to – the CD and a pair of Pioneer CDJ/XDJs.