Is The CD Dead and Is It Killing The Music Industry?

The CD or Compact disc has been the most popular form of audio consumption for years, decades even. Everyone remembers their first CD, mine was Mcfly’s “Room On The Third Floor” — A great record that I still own. As time has gone on and generations have succeeded mine, I have started to notice a decline in the purchasing of CD’s, in 2019 people much prefer to stream their music instead of having a physical disc copy.

The rise of streaming coupled with the slow death of brick and mortar music stores such as HMV have made me really question the future of the CD as a viable audio consumption and distribution method. Let’s be real here, what are you more likely to do, add your favorite song to your Spotify playlist for free and from the comfort of your own home OR go out to an actual store and spend money on a CD? Unfortunately, the majority of the modern generation, including myself, would choose option one.

The only time I’ve even seen a CD in recent situations is if I go to see an unsigned live band and they happen to be selling an E.P of some kind, but even then the band rarely make sales and would be much better off promoting their Spotify handles.

Why has the music and audio industry become so streaming heavy? Purely due to the convenience OF streaming. As stated above, in order for someone to grab the latest tune, all they have to do is add the track to their Spotify playlist with one simple click. Frankly, the modern generations have become lazy in many ways of life and would rather not venture outside and spend money when they can get the music they want online to stream for free.

So, we’ve looked at why the CD is becoming less and less popular, what does that mean for music industry professionals and the music they write, produce and distribute?

Let me start this off by saying that it’s not a pretty picture. It is near on impossible for unsigned artists to make a solid living off of streaming royalties, if you want to make money from your music, you’ve got to think of other ways to do so. I can imagine some of you are skeptical about this so rather than take my word for it, lets look at the actual figures.

Pretty shocking numbers right? What the above image tells me, is that in order to make any form of decent money purely from streams, you have to have serious backing from a label. Obviously, bands at all levels make the majority of their money through touring and merch sales anyway but its a real kick in the teeth for artists knowing that in the streaming world, their music that they’ve worked extremely hard to create, holds pretty much zero monetary value.

I’ve heard the argument that if you want to make money from your songs then you’re better off selling CD’s. My response to that is always that nobody in this day and age is going to buy a physical CD when they can just go home and stream the track online. It may be an extremely pessimistic way of looking at it, but no matter what bands do, the reality is there is no money in selling records anymore. This is the consequence of streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.

I’d like to wrap this up by encouraging music consumers and fans to support their favourite unsigned bands by going to shows, buying their merch and if they have a CD for sale, by that too! They would’ve slogged in the studio for days, sometimes even weeks to get the record finished, the least they deserve is some form of small financial reward.

Musician | Composer | Music Blogger | Music Educator | Brand Founder