Music Industry

Published on January 30th, 2019 | by Alan Cross

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Is it still worth selling CDs? It’s a question that needs to be asked.

In the Olden Days, album charts were easy to understand. The more records you sold, the higher up the chart you moved. Now, though, determining chart positions is complicated.

The buzzword is consumption. This is a combination of sales (physical and digital) and streams using a formula called “track equivalent albums” or TEAs. These metrics are then weighted and combined to come up with a spot on charts like the Billboard Top 200.

Last week, there were two records in the top ten of that chart that sold less than 650 copies–digital copies, at that. Nothing physical. In other words, all the releases’ chart power came via streaming.

This bears repeating: In a nation of 320 million, only 650-ish people bought one of these albums. That’s…astonishing. It underscores just how much the economics of the music business has changed.

So here’s the question. Is it even worth printing up and selling CDs anymore? This is from Hypebot:

“When was the last time you bought a CD?

“Many of us have fond memories of growing up with CDs. I can remember rushing to the local record shop after school (or cutting class altogether) to pick up the latest CD from my favorite artists. But the last time I bought a CD at a retail store, Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake were just starting their highly anticipated careers as solo artists.

“On-demand streaming services have changed the way we consume music. With such easy access to music, there’s no longer a need to buy physical media in order to listen to your favorite artists. If you’re a musician trying to make a living (or even a dime) from your music, you may be wondering: Is it still worth it to sell physical CDs?

“The short answer is: it depends.”

Keep reading.




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ 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.


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2 Responses to Is it still worth selling CDs? It’s a question that needs to be asked.

  1. Scott says:

    I had a huge CD collection in the 90’s 4-500, and was constantly trading and buying…. That said, I think the last CD i bought was Velvet Revolver…..lmao

  2. Call Me Snake says:

    Cat Power- Wanderer
    Still cost me $20 + tax @Sunrise

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