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Music CD, I'm just not that into you

Posted by: Aaron Pressman on March 21, 2007

There’s a fascinating if flawed story in the WSJ today about the decline in sales of music CDs. There’s much to and fro about what’s behind the drop. The industry as always wants to blame piracy. Critics want to blame poor quality of product, bad marketing tactics and digital rights restricting technologies. There’s even some far-sighted commentary about changing business models.

But this article, and similar ones you’ve no doubt read a thousand times in recent years over declines in music sales and movie attendance, miss the boat. And it’s a pretty big and obvious boat at that. There are only so many hours in a day for each of us — the consumers of entertainment — to consume entertainment. Various new forms of entertainment that catch on have to displace some of the time we spent on our former diversions.

While CD sales are down, the number of households with DVD players more than tripled over the past five years to 84 million and sales of DVDs rose to 1.1 billion from 313 million in 2001. Does anyone really think that consumers could buy 800 million more DVDs, worth $10 billion or more, without cutting back on some other entertainment spending? Similarly, the number of households with broadband Internet connections almost quadrupled to over 36 million. At $30 a month, that’s another $9 billion a year right there. The number of households with access to video on demand hit 24 million in 2005, ten times the 2001 level. And now Internet video is just starting up (Ironically, there’s a review in another section of the WSJ today touting Apple’s new Apple TV device to bring video and music purchased and downloaded from the Internet to your TV).

For investors, the lesson is that it’s tough to buck the odds. Established players almost always fail to adapt to change. It’s the nature of a free market. Today’s WSJ story about music sales reminded me of the accelerating drop in old-fashioned film sales that Kodak has experienced over the past few years. So you won’t be surprised to learn that if you look at the five-year stock market performance of the 130 or so sub-industry sectors tracked by Morningstar, radio, film and TV producers, broadcast TV, advertising and media conglomerates are five of the 12 worst performers, the very worst.

Here’s the context: The S&P 500 averaged a 6% annual gain over the past five years, the small-cap Russell 2000 rose 12% a year and even the Lehman Brothers Aggregate Bond Index climbed 5% annually. Meanwhile investors in media conglomerates saw their stocks rise less than 3% a year, in advertising just 2% and in TV broadcasters less than 0.3% annually. Owners of film and TV producers lost 1% annually and radio investors burned down the house losing an average of 9% a year over the past five years. Ouch.

Ironically, given all the complaining that the Motion Picture Association of America does about piracy, my entire “it’s just that simple” thesis is spelled out in the back pages of very informative research report that the group issued on the state of the 2005 U.S. entertainment industry.

If you flip near the back to page 51, you’ll see a table of how many hours a year the average consumer “spends” on various forms of commercial entertainment. In the four years from 2001 to 2005, overall time spent on these pursuits rose to 3,482 hours per person from 3,356 hours, about a 4% increase. But that didn’t benefit all forms of entertainment equally. Here’s a table I’ve created from the MPAA report showing the change in hours per person spent by activity:

Cable and satellite TV +125
Consumer Internet +52
Home video +29
Broadcast and satellite radio +26
Wireless content +15
Video games +12

Consumer books 0

Movies (at the theater) -1
Consumer magazines -3
Daily newspapers -14
Recorded music -50
Broadcast TV -65

You get the same picture when you look at the average dollars spent by entertainment consumers (from a chart on page 53). Overall spending per person rose to $890.77 a year from $675.35, a healthy 32% increase. Spending on television (cable, video on demand etc) plus home video (DVDs) soaked up more than half of the total increase. Throw in Internet spending and you’ve accounted for 90%. No surprise then that spending on newspapers and recorded music actually declined.

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Reader Comments


May 29, 2007 04:22 AM

The article is ridiculous. Apparently we only had music before DVD came along. Has the author never heard of Video, or TV, or cable? Thanks for this brilliant insight in our world.


May 29, 2007 07:23 AM

That's not ridiculous, I think his point is well made. Consumers are spending 50 less hours listening to music per year, on average. If that's 2 or 3 cds less per person, that amount would convert to hundreds of millions of dollars of less revenue.


May 29, 2007 08:30 AM

cakesy, we don't live in a vacuum. When the quality of the inhome entertainment experience began to rival that of the movie theatre experience, theatres (especially independent ones) had to shutter their doors.

Cable TV has improved, DVD over VHS is a huge improvement, and until recently, high speed internet wasn't cheap or readily available.

Whereas, music has stagnated. CD prices haven't dropped, the quality of music hasn't changed - yet everything else has (you can buy a DVD player and a few dvds from walmart for $30 - you can't say the same for more than two music CDs).

The money is spent elsewhere, clearly. Why buy a 45 minute music CD when I can buy up to four hours of video entertainment for the same price?


May 29, 2007 09:02 AM

Also, if you spend more time not listening to new music, then there is no reason to buy new music CDs.

D. P. Roberts

May 29, 2007 10:18 AM

The music industry has enjoyed inflated success due to changing format for over a generation. They switched formats from vinyl to cassette in the 1980's, then to CD in the 1990's. Once I bought all my old albums for the third time, my CD purchases slowed way down.

Of course CD sales are declining. People are *only* buying new music now. We already have the old stuff.


May 29, 2007 10:21 AM

There's two problems methinks. First, CD prices are way too high (too many middlemen); a CD should not retail for more than $7, and it should be sold directly to the consumer. Second of all, I get the impression that the video game industry is a big culprit as far as consumer dollars go.
In any case, things aren't going to change much, especially with all of these encrypted file-sharing services, such as GigaTribe which is #1 in Europe and lets friends download directly off of each other's harddrives:


May 29, 2007 10:50 AM

Also, what do most people listen to their music on these days? From personal experience, if I'm at work or surfing the net it'll be a computer, if I'm travelling or at the gym it'll be a portable player. If I'm home and relaxing -- and not watching TV or movies -- I'll either put the radio on (maybe hear something new..) or use my portable player (it's got all the good stuff from my CD collection on it anyways, plus a bunch more, and it's much quicker to access than hunting out CDs in my collection).

Result? I download albums from P2P and can listen to them anywhere. If I actually like the album, I'll buy a DRM'ed copy to support the artist, but still actually listen to the MP3.


May 29, 2007 10:58 AM

this is on the mark. this is what I've been saying for years.


May 29, 2007 11:22 AM

People still buy books. Amazing.

Heard it before

May 29, 2007 12:04 PM

Let's not forget that the quality of the artists and the "songs" they sing have gone downhill in recent years as well. Remember when you could actually enjoy a whole album? These days, you get one or two formulated pop songs mixed in with utter crap. Now that you can buy just the pop songs on iTunes for a buck, why waste time and money going to the record store to buy a CD that you only listen to a couple songs? And these days, smart artists skip the middle-man and offer songs on their own websites.

Another factor, I believe, not mentioned in the article is the rising popularity of satellite radio. I can get CD-quality music, and let someone else create the playlists, instead of listening to my iPod's songs for the ump-teenth time.

Having said that, I agree with this viewpoint of this article and, I believe, the RIAA is just using the numbers as propaganda (*sniff* boo-hoo! I didn't make enough for my yacht payment this month. Waaaaaah!).


May 29, 2007 12:28 PM

I have another reason for you that they are not selling lots of CD's and that is because the music is bad. How many times have you bought a CD only to find that only one song on the CD is any good and the rest is rubbish! I think consumers are revolting at the rubbish we are being asked to purchase.


May 29, 2007 12:44 PM

Another important expense to factor into the equation: Mobile phones.

I have no idea what the minimum age for mobile phone ownership is, but 4th of 5th grade kids do have them. It is safe to assume that older kids are forced to pay for the phones themselves..


May 29, 2007 01:02 PM

Also, CD's, unlike vinyl and cassettes, don't wear out. After having several hundred (we have about 500 I think) cd's you just don't need any more.


May 29, 2007 01:22 PM

We also subscribe to Satellite radio, as well as receive many music channels through our cable provider. As such, we find that we tune into the satellite radio or cable channel playing the genre we like, and then listen through our home stereo systems. As a result, the purchasing of CD's, including "new" music is way down, and the purchasing of music services is up. We have substituted money we would have spent on CDs purchasing other music services.

For those artists that we hear that we feel are worthy of purchasing a CD, we will do so. I also agree that CD prices are ridiculously high, in comparison with other entertainment options available.

Dave Campbell

May 29, 2007 02:05 PM

Good observation about the declining quality of music, generally. One thing that the media conglomerates brought to the table was a fairly high barrier to entry for musicians. You actually had to convince someone your music was worth recording before it would make it to plastic. Today, anyone with a $10 microphone and an open-source tool can make a recording.

Impact on CD sales is complicated, but an abundance of non-CD inventory is a start.

Mr. C

May 29, 2007 02:12 PM

The reasons listed in the article are all valid but there are even more from my personal experience. I subscribe to an online music service and can listen to a huge catalog of music at home or at work and it's cheaper than 1 CD per month. I still buy the ocassional CD but only on sale - and there is always a sale somewhere on the internet. The "album" of music is dead and I don't see it coming back. Most music listeners of today have randomized their music listening. I have had a 110 disk CD player for over 10 years. I have random lists on the computer and my MP3 player. Blank CD's cost less than a dime each and I have stacks of mixed CD's for playing in the car. I used to do a lot of file downloading but after I filled in the gaps in my musical history I got bored with it and quit. Most new major label music is bad. So bad that they have to concentrate on the video to sell the song and not the song itself. The emphasis on visuals over music started way back with the start of MTV and has spawned a generation that prefers to consume their music with visuals. To them CD's are boring.


May 29, 2007 02:43 PM

I think this is a very eye-opening article, too bad the RIAA will choose to ignore this sort of data.

Another good point is that the RIAA didn't complain back when tape-decks were the thing, and everyone was trading tapes with friends and making "Mix-tapes" recorded directly from their local radio stations.

Maybe comparing the entertainment industry and the complaints of the RIAA during the tape-deck era to the complaints of the RIAA now could provide good statistical data for this article.


May 29, 2007 05:38 PM

Personally, I just don't like to listen to music and have very few CD's. On the other hand, I started a DVD collection but, after a few dozen of them, I noticed that I never watched them and stopped collecting them-- there are too many good YouTube videos to watch anyway.

My father once played music, professionally, but that market's gone! Only the diehard muscians make money at it now.

So, maybe that's one of the reasons why CD sales are down? People just don't think their going to make money at it?


May 29, 2007 06:02 PM

Also, what are consumers to do when the music industry simply did not offer the sale of music with the new technology?! It wasnt until iTunes that one could legally purchase music in MP3 format! You cant expect us to keep buying old technology (CDs), simply because you choose not to sell music with new technology.

Imagine if the music industry didnt sell any new music on CDs when CDs came out, but instead forced you to buy tapes still!

The decline of music sales is simple: the music industry couldnt embrace the change in technology.

The film and TV industry was lucky enough to learn from the music industry's mistakes, and now we're seeing all sorts of content being delivered digitally (over cable, satillite, and the internet). They arent telling us to go buy our movies on VHS. lol


May 29, 2007 06:11 PM

Kyle's point about tape decks and "mix tapes" is a little off. One of the reasons behind CD's, other than better quality, was for copy protection. If you look at the time CD's came out, it was several years till you could get a commercially available CD burner that was in the average persons price range. And then, the RIAA was all up in arms when it did. DVD is the response to VHS, which was easy to copy, and Blue-Ray and HD dvd is the response to DVD. Regardless of how technical the DRM gets, there is always thousands of smarter people who are willing and able to crack it. The industry has been dealing with piracy since they let consumers buy their product, and they always will. If they were smarter about their products, ie. better pricing, less intrusive DRM, better delivery methods (downloads), then they would have less people fed up with the system and looking for ways to bypass it.


May 29, 2007 06:44 PM

This is for Books...
"People still buy books. Amazing.

Posted by: books at May 29, 2007 11:22 AM"

I like to read but it's a changeing world


May 29, 2007 06:57 PM

Few people take care of CDs to the point of carefully returning them to their case. Point is, they are bound to be scratched. It makes sense to keep the content in a more easily accessible place, where technically you can checksum the thing and know with certainty it won't skip.


May 29, 2007 06:59 PM

For all intents and purposes, I stopped supporting the RIAA and their associated bloodsuckers in the middle '80s. I read an article that broke down exactly how much my favorite band made from sales of a world-conquering, multi-platinum album. After the vampiric middle-men were done, the guys in the band split about $1 per $12 unit. And they were an established act, with the best representation available at the time.

The article then went on to detail the profit the band made from their live performances. A five-figure guarantee to step off the bus and onto the stage every night, plus 95% of reported merchandise sales inside the arena. Since then, unless I just can't live without hearing the full scope of an artist's newest offering (there's about two bands that fall into that category), if I really want to support a musician, I buy a ticket, go to the show, and buy a t-shirt. Those things might be overpiced as well, but I'm making sure the lion's share of my dollar will at least land in the artist's account. At least until their accountants, managers, lawyers, and drug dealers get their hands on it.

johnny underslacks

May 29, 2007 07:03 PM

i listen to way more music now than i did five years ago. i disagree with this hypothesis strictly based on the fact that every music fan i know says the same thing.


May 29, 2007 07:17 PM

Yea, it didn't help that CD went up in price while DVD's went down in price but in addition, as the evidence shows - the music industry sold itself as the soundtrack to our lives and it became true - but the flipside is that music just became background noise ... yea, nice but devalued - add to the fact that music was avialble EVERYWHERE - on ads, in supermarkets, ballgames, etc , etc ...

Jesus H. Christ

May 29, 2007 07:24 PM

There aren't even any illegal MP3's worth downloading anymore.


May 29, 2007 07:44 PM

This article illustrates a basic point. People will buy the product if there is "good" product to buy. The slump isn't so much a trend towards a different business model. It a slump because people are readjusting the priority dollars because there simply isn't any CD's that anyone feels they "have to have". There is no killer artist for CD's. The music industry always cycles like this. There is always a lull just before a new momentum change in music. These slumps drive innovative music. The industry begins to abandon the "same-ol" formula and start looking for the next big break out band.


May 29, 2007 09:34 PM

This is the same thing the phone companies complained about with DSL and cell phones. You were supposed to buy DSL and cellphones ON TOP OF your 2 phone lines and dial-up access, not replace them.


May 29, 2007 09:53 PM

I think that if the hard copy printed CDs were done away with the overhead of producing CDs would be totally eliminated. If you offered the music in digital formats only there is nothing extra that you need to pay for and a full download of the album can be cheaper than a dollar per song, which is a ripoff anyway.

Anonymous Chicken

May 29, 2007 10:29 PM

Land investors and publically traded real estate speculators are feeling like they got kicked in the balls because the real estate industry changed and they refused to adapt.

RIAA, welcome to the land of the real estate investor.

Cut some MP3's (quality studio time can be had for very cheap), copyright your own songs, throw em out on the Internet, make your own shirts and merchandise, promote your own tours, and end the RIAA.


May 29, 2007 11:17 PM

So, the industry leaders fail to adapt. Yawn. Seen that movie, know how it ends.

New music I want (Nerdcore, Wizard Rock, and various Indies) I get from the artists. Old stuff, I get from iTunes (That should actually worry Apple. They're rapidly becoming the oldies channel.) Most of the new artists I listen to put their stuff up for free. If I like it, I buy it anyway. Why? Because I'm voting with my dollars. If I want an artist/band to continue, I try to throw them some cash. The nice thing about the 'net is that I can throw them a little cash if they did one good song, or a lot if they did an album's worth.

The internet is the invisible hand leveling the distribution field. That's scary as hell if you're in the distribution biz, but great news to us consumers.


May 30, 2007 12:20 AM

I used to think the music/movie industry failed to address the issue of cassette copying and "mixtapes" that existed before the the advent of cds. Now, I think that that cassette/analog piracy wasn't as nearly as rampant as the digital piracy of today.

When you recorded a cassette copy of your favourite album(or movie), you made one copy for one friend. One copy was always made for one other party. Today, there are two ways of sharing your music (or movies). When one person rips a cd, he can either burn a copy onto a cd-r and give it to a friend, or he can share it via P2P services. It is the P2P services that create the bulk of the record companies concerns. One person who has purchased the cd/dvd can potentially give a copy to anyone on earth with an internet connection. It's a most viral form of sharing. And I can see the concern for it.

Still, I have noticed that cd prices are getting ridiculous, as dvd prices have become quite inexpensive. And for the cds that people are purchasing, the record industry has realized that they belong to artists with established devoted followings. They tend to overprice those cds to compensate for the lack of sales in their more pop mainstream albums. I recently read an article on Trent Reznor finding out his record company was doing just that. An interesting read, though it sucks to know that the music industry exploits those who actually buy the cds they complain no one is buying.

the link to the article:,21985,21741980-5006024,00.html


May 30, 2007 01:07 AM

Well said by Aaron Pressman. At least in parts of Asia where there are new broadband connections people spend more time online than listening to CDs.
They simply have less time to listen to music, whether they download the music ilegally or if they buy original CDs.


May 30, 2007 05:06 AM

For a while I thought one technology would simply push the older one away. Just as it did with Vinyl and tapes when CDs arrived. Often better sounding, more convenient to use,you name it.
I'm the happy owner of a home cinema system that I built up over the years. Quiet decent now. A few years back when I started to hear about SACDs and DVDA I thought well, here's the solution for the music industry. SACD will push away CDs, and the sound quality of MP3 whatever the encoding rate just doesn't make it. The recording industry will bet on sound quality, and soon, Audio CDs will feel like sounding like old tapes and naturally die away. Guess they missed the chance to make it happen...


May 30, 2007 06:31 AM

The baby boomer generation are getting old and buying less cd's. Similarly all their big acts (Stones, Beatles, Eagles, etc etc) are also getting old and have stopped releasing cd's. There's only so many times you can release a greatest hit package.

Johnny K

May 30, 2007 01:04 PM

I think alot of it comes from the fact that music just isn't as culturally important. There was a time when culture would follow music, and music helped lead culture, but I think the shift to in prominent media trends has crept away from music. Naturally, it will sound somewhat unscientific, but I think it's fair to say that music is just becoming less popular.

And as for Dave Campbell's conjecture: how is that different from a four-track and a mic from years ago?

Joe Blunt

May 30, 2007 05:50 PM

I think there are fewer mainstream media channels for new artists to get publicity.

FM radio in 70s and 80s was more wild and wooly than Clear Channel dominated radio of today.

I used to be able to turn on the radio in my work day and get exposed to a new artist whose music I might buy.

Today, I turn on the radio and mostly hear artists who sound just like someone who was popular last month. It's no longer the marketplace deciding who is popular. All of these artists getting radio play are decided on by a handful of music programmers controlling playlists of conglomerate stations across the country.

All the radio conglomeration has led to a homogenization and dumbing-down of the music available to the public. It's just not as exciting as it used to be. Don't get me wrong, I love to check out pandora radio and to find new artists, but the act of surfing to a website is just fundamentally different from flipping on the radio. It's also the difference between the mainstream public with access to exciting new artists and a fraction of the public looking for new music.


May 30, 2007 07:39 PM

Well it's a good thing to point out the obvious now and then.The RIAA would like to sue their customers into offsetting the rvenue lost by the explosion of new and different media now available. Obviously a dead-end business strategy. But, it seems clear to me it is the lawyers who are driving the music business, not the artists - or- for that matter - not even real businessmen.
Well here's another elephant in the room guys.
For the past forty years it has been the baby boomers who have been the most voracious consumers of music. The RIAA has earned it's keep by fulfilling the wants of the single biggest generation in history. Simple logic would seem to dictate that as the boomers age they will buy less of what they used to consume voraciously. And the newer generations will consume less music because there are fewer of them. Duh!
Combine a shrinking mass of consumers with an exploding variety of media choices and the results are mathematically predictable. Calling your newest potential customers thieves and then sueing them for "stealing" your product is the surest way to destroy an industry that is necessarily shrinking.


May 31, 2007 12:26 AM

I think comments about "bad music" are off-base. I'll assume that if you're buying a CD that has just one or two good songs on it then you're taking your cues from pop radio or MTV. There is an abundance of exceptionally high quality music being recorded today, if you aren't buying it, thats your personal problem in locating music. The problem is that the industry doesn't have the strength to mandate to its customers anymore exactly what music they should buy and when. Music discovery has become niche and far more difficult without the support of quality radio, which is probably just another reason why album sales are down.


May 31, 2007 07:55 AM

I do think that there is a zero sum equation, in which people do have a limited amount of time to enjoy art, whether new or old. An acquaintance recently pointed out that for terrestrial radio--typically listened to only during drive time to and from work-- cell phone use is cutting into listenership, as you cannot talk and actually listen to music OR advertisements at the same time. Many of us have turned the radio down so low that we are no longer responsive to it, or have turned it off altogether in favor of the cell phone. Advertising rates are obviously effected.


May 31, 2007 04:32 PM

I agree with all the Baby Boomer comments. I am a Baby who is getting older...and one who used to voraciously buy vinyl in the 80' the tune of 1 to 3 albums a week! When cds came out...I replaced a lot of those albums. But, times have changed, and so has the music. The Baby Boomers have lost The Beatles, The Stones, Hendrix, can I say Alice Cooper? The 70's/80's was the cream of the crop in music as far as the Baby Boomers are concerned. I remember sitting in my room in the 70's, listening to "Welcome to My Nightmare" on my JCPenney stereo. It didnt get any better than that! But hey, I liked Jet's first album, not bad for an old fart...p.s.///theyre new album sucks!


June 1, 2007 04:40 AM

There is validity in this argument for sure. But there are also other factors, and one of them is saturation.

I've already bought most of the CDs I needed (from backcatalogues) so I will only buy occasionally in the future. The same thing is happening with my DVD collection - I've already bought most of the stuff which I wanted to upgrade from VHS to DVD, now I will only buy selected new content occasinally.

As for the record companies performance - I'm sure they can improve their financials significantly by stopping their donations to the likes of MPAA, RIAA and other racketeering and corrupt organisations in the hope that those will somehow manage to press their customers into paying more for less.


June 1, 2007 08:28 AM

Personally, I was scared off by all the DRM crap they started infecting CD's with. I got tired of trying to find out if it was a "real" CD & just started DL stuff from usenet. My buying went from 3-5 per month to 3-5 per year. Add this to the labels "louder is better" mentality even for classic remasters & I'm just not gonna spend the $ anymore. I've since shifted that $ to my DVD collection over the years, so I still spend money on entertainment in a tangible product form. This year may be an upturn when the Alan Parsons Project remasters finally arrive. If they're done properly & not DRM'd, then I'll buy them all. I'm not the least bit interested in paying for a music file either. I'll spend money on a worthwhile DRM-free product, not something that is just "ether" I'd rather rip it myself & get a better quality file that I can play/transfer anywhere without having my Fair Use rights restricted or right to privacy invaded.


June 1, 2007 11:14 PM

To make it simple, consumers have a limited amount of disposable income, and an limited amount of free time to enjoy their entertainment. As the variety of choices has exploded, the old guard of the entertainment industry has to share a smaller portion of the pie with web pages, video downloads, cable on demand, next-gen games, and dozens of other options. If they can't adapt to a changing market, then they deserve to go the way of the dinosaurs.


June 2, 2007 03:59 AM

Well personally i think the ideas A. that people are not listening to music any more B. there are no more good bands are both hog wash.

in my opinion additional reasons CD sales are failing are:

1. they try to promote only certain things.
i for one will DL almost anything to try it out(something i can't do with CD's), and if i do like it enough to want to support the artist no CD shops around even have it most times, but you can be sure there are stocked in nickleback brittney and The white album.

2. the format is not versatile enough.
How many CD do you own that no longer play? How many CDs can you fit in your pocket? with digital formats (GO Vogg/Flac) i can take all the songs i want with little effort. I can send my friend a song i think they may like from across the globe. CD's are a bust.

3. the marketing sucks.
the radio stations where i live seem to have shorter play lists than most ipods, Constantly bombarding me will not make me like crappy music any more than i already do. Well i don't agree that people listen to music less i do think they watch music less. I can't barely watch regular tv never mind random Music videos and again the play lists are even shorter here. I listen to more music now than ever but more and more i am find myself listening groups that have been recommended from online people. One band in particular has TWO full albums that rock and the only place i heard there song(besides DL) was a dam car commercial. With the easy of making music today so much is available but that means tastes are diversifying as well and that makes it harder to sell the pop crap thats out there.

4. there is no four

5. Trying to force rule usually turns people off.
I for one stopped buying CDs around the time all those huge lawsuits started crippling families because the kids where DLing music or puting people in jail. DMR is a direct violation of consumer rights, if i buy something i am entitled to make copies for my use. As far as i am concerned the RIAA gets the full extension of my middle finger and thats it.


June 3, 2007 05:28 AM

For me, i don't understand why we still only have stereo music on CD. In the past we had Mone on vinyl, then we did get Stereo, but i don't see any Dolby Surround or better on CD. WHY not?? Is there any problem to do like that while we already have\had Dolby Surround radio?? Or 4.1, 5.1, 7.1 sound on the computergames. Let the music industry make music recordings where you actualy feel like sitting in the preformance it self. Then the sellings will rise again and everybody will be happy.


June 5, 2007 06:30 PM

I don't agree there is a big demand for 5.1 etc CDs. The technology certainly exists, but there are two problems with it.

1. The recording industry doesn't care, since it wouldn't drive a format change and thus new royalty $. (Technology already exsists to add a second, better quality layer of sound to a CD invisible to a conventional CD player.)

2. Consumers have already chosen digital downloads as their next format of choice. Since the record companies have been slow/unwilling to embrace that change the ONLY winner in this change is Apple.


June 6, 2007 04:47 PM

2 Seven: Well, there, actually, is a problem. The Red Book standard for the Audio CD just doesn't allow more than two channels of digital audio for one track. The surround audio tracks would also take up much more space on the media. You can have surround music on DVDs but the problem is that the consumers just don't really want this. They're more after "classic" stereo sound - they can listen to it by headphones, they can listen to the music from the portable players, etc. And the radio? Well, the analog radio has still so many problems with two channels of audio that I just simply can't imagine 6-channel broadcasting. If the consumers are more demanding about quality there will probably be surround films on the digital TV (because the films in the cinemas are surround) but still no radio. Why? Just because there are hardly any surround songs. The music artists don't produce surround music, that's it.

fran snyder

June 6, 2007 11:00 PM

For some artists who want to sell more CDs, here's part of the answer:

Not only is recorded music competing with other media -so is LIVE music. How many times have you walked into a club or coffeehouse and seen a talented artist go un-noticed?

Especially for small, acoustic acts, finding a true listening venue is becoming more and more difficult. Artists need a place where you can play your songs without having a TV over your head, or a having a screaming espresso machine distract from your performance.

Fortunately, more and more artists and music fans are discovering the joy of house concerts, where small acts often go "unplugged" for an intimate gathering of music fans in someone's living room. For many acts, these shows are much more rewarding (and not just financially) than the traditional spaces available to acoustic music.

Fran Snyder - the most comprehensive resource for house concerts.


June 7, 2007 10:21 AM

any on know where i can get an 8track

Dragoljub C.

June 9, 2007 08:15 PM

I just want to say I really enjoyed this article and all the comments. Very informative! Thank you all!

I am sort of a musician, but I'm still a beginner, so this information was very useful to me. I see now that my future success or failure will not be measured in number of sold, or even published CDs, or DVDs, or whatever hard copy media. The future is digital and over the Internet.

I've recently experienced and it was a very pleasant experience! In less than a week since I created a myspace page, I've been contacted by several users, of which two were not interesting to me (one because of big style differences in music, and the other was a spam/porn type account. But the third user was amazing: he was producing music very similar to some of my favorite bands and also listed those bands in his "influences" list. But that's not the point. I then looked at profiles (myspace pages) of several users in his "my friends" list. They also produced and presented impressive music and I enjoyed listening to it - directly from the browser!

I think this "network" linking of similar artists will eventually be the primary source where people will quickly find related music artists. It sure looks better and more efficient than anything we had before (like radio stations and record shops).

I also saw some artists had embedded's players on their profile pages. As I understand, is a legal way to purchase music (like iTunes). I'm not really sure, because I haven't used it yet. I don't know yet how complicated it will be to place my tracks on it.

It looks like that's all a new artist needs (myspace and beatport are just examples, there are probably alternatives) in order to get his/her music to potential listeners and start receiving some money for his art.


I just had a cool idea for the future: wouldn't it be cool if there was some "simple" free service which cleverly and seamlessly combined myspace and beatport - like an online radio, but instead of just a linear playlist there would be a "play-graph" (you know what a graph is? it's like a web, network...). The individual consumer would choose the path (direction) which determines what songs/artists to play. It's very similar to a classic radio device, but instead of a small number of "radio channels of music" (FM), you could have limitless (in number and in length) PATHS to listen to... :)

All that IS possible today, but the consumer waists time on clicking and browsing and downloading etc... Not everybody wants to read about the artists and look at videos and pictures.

Well, now that the idea is out, it's only a matter of time before someone builds something like that for all of us to enjoy. Can't wait...


June 10, 2007 12:57 AM

My $.02 how many of you buy your cds from Ebay some one buys a cd from the store and just dosent like it and sells it on Ebay that is one less cd bought at the store

June 11, 2007 09:07 AM

I think that you really have a nice thought for this one. Everyone including me are fascinated with the the observation you made.As for me, I still think that CDs are still reliable source of great music.


June 11, 2007 06:31 PM

the price of a cd should have greatly increased due to inflation. the problem is people are selling CD's, the media itself not the content. consumers can go get blank cd's for a fraction of the price and get the content for free. we need another way to increase the value of the media, by adding additional content or by creatively packaging it to give the consumer something that they cant download.


June 13, 2007 06:47 AM

The consumer is spending vastly greater amounts of money on state-of-the-art personal and home entertainment technologies to match the capabilities of the latest media . Why is it then that the consumer then proceeds to DL content at 1\10th the quality of the original? (and sometimes pay the original price for the privilege eg, itunes) The whole shift to CD/DVD was for superior quality yet mp3 and AVI are one giant step backwards. It appears consumers now seek quantity over quality then rightly so the entertainment industry is responding through producing quantity over quality. You get what you pay (or don't pay) for in the end.


June 13, 2007 11:07 PM

Dick Dale on UTube says it all:

The way copyrights works with major labels they purchase the rights to the music. They also can (and do) deciede the music isn't commercially viable or in their interests to produce. (Wilco) Why? They don't want the competition against what they want to promote.

The band can't even play a note of their own music on the street corner.

We are supossed to listen to what they want us to listen to.


July 7, 2007 11:45 PM

If not mistaken, I remember about a decade plus ago, the movie industry went on a slump just like the what's happening to the music industry today. Hardly anyone in my part of the Asia world go to the movies. It wasn't so much about the rampant piracy which was happening but the fact that the movies were of poor content and crap quality.

But that all changed when the movie industry started to come out with better movies (story content wise and all those nice special effects) plus better cinema facilities (great seating, better sound, etc). Today, people flock the cinemas like crazy despite the rampant piracy that's happening here. The cinemas are always full and people can't get enough of it.

At least the movie industry got it right, unlike some that just continue to sue and sue and sue. The fact is that to sue is an act of desperation and it's a bad start from the beginning. Maybe the music industry should learn a thing or two from the movie boys....


September 6, 2007 12:02 AM

What websites are available to find out the album sales of a band?


September 10, 2007 09:37 PM

Cool!CD players


December 19, 2007 05:06 AM

I agree with this article but 1 important thing. I don't like the idea of getting rid of CD, because as a musician/producer/engineer, I can hear the difference between compressed media and raw wav data which is burned on CDs. MP3s is cool for listening to when i can't get to my CD player but when I can I'd much rather listen to the CD because the mix sounds dramatically clearer to me. And I agree that there is very little music out there worth purchasing. Just a lot of recycled singles.


June 19, 2008 01:07 PM

I don't like the ideo of getting rid of CD because some people can't afford those ipod shuffles/nanos etc. To keep on paying for songs for them would be a disaster if they couldn't afford it. So they should keep making CDs.

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