Music News

CD sales continue to tank this summer

It’s fascinating to watch how quickly sales of physical music are cratering in the age of streaming.

Looking at the American SoundScan charts from last week, Drake’s Scorpion is again at #1, selling a measly 29,369 units, exactly 14 more than it did the week before. SoundScan haven’t seen totals this low since the system was put in place back in 1991.

Streaming is killing the format. Wiz Khalifa’s new album, Rolling Papers 2, debuted at #3 by selling just 14,000 copies. It was possible to make the Top 10 on the American SoundScan chart with less than 8,200 units. Just 666 CD/vinyl sales will squeak you into the Top 200. Add up the entire Top 200 and you have a total of 478,000 CDs sold.

To put it another way, 99.991% of the US population did not buy the #1 album in the country.

This, of course, only tells part of the story. Billboard and SoundScan are doing everything they can to maintain the viability of the album. Using all the other weird metrics and weightings involving sales, downloads, and streams, Drake is #1 on the overall Top 200 Album Chart with a “consumption activity” number of 260,149. The vast majority of that final number is determined by nearly 300,000,000 million streams. (Drake has generated more than $100 million for Spotify and Apple alone.)

Here in Canada, Drake is also #1 with a SoundScan figure of 3,812, up about a thousand since last week’s debut. Scrolling to the bottom of the Top 200 finds Sam Smith’s The Thrill of It All at the bottom with a total sales number of 84. Yes, eighty-four.

Drilling down deeper, the top-selling CD in Toronto is This Wild Life with Petaluma, moving 559 copies. The #200 album comes from The Grateful Dead with a total of 12.

Makes you wonder how much longer the music industry will bother with the hassle of manufacturing, transporting, warehousing and selling CDs, doesn’t it?


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38321 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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