If trends in consumer behaviour continue, fewer than 10 million CDs will be sold in Canada in 2018 as streaming becomes the dominant way of accessing music.
While the CD won’t disappear anytime soon, it’s going to become a little harder to find one outside of a traditional record store.
With CD sales falling in the US as well (only 89 million were sold last year, down from a staggering 800 million back in 2001), Best Buy has decided that they have better use for that floor space on all their stores. By July 1, Best Buy will exit the CD-selling game entirely.
How big a deal is this? At one time, Best Buy was the most powerful of all retailers when it came to selling CDs–bigger than even Walmart.
And that’s not all. Target, another mass retailer that’s stuck with selling CDs through these tough times, is reported asking record labels to buy back any unsold inventory as they move to selling discs on consignment. If this request is refused, it’s likely that Target will follow Best Buy’s lead.
So why is this a big deal? Because retailers like this can still certain titles from certain artists in tremendous numbers. For example, Target–which normally stocks just 100 titles–sold over 500,000 copies of Taylor Swift’s Reputation album. Without someone like Target in her corner, Tay-Tay’s going to have to rethink this whole strategy of withholding new music from streaming services in order to goose sales on higher-margin physical units.
I don’t expect that record labels will be all that concerned about this. They want to get out of the physical music game because they’re making so much more money from streaming now. They’d love to see the CD disappear, removing the annoyances of manufacturing, transportation, warehousing, distribution and dealing with all those pesky record stores and falling SoundScan numbers.
As far as we know, Best Buy will stick with DVDs, although that’s another format on life support. And the company says that they’ll continue to stock a limited number of vinyl titles for at least the next two years.