THE FALL OF THE COMPACT DISC - Interesting commentary by Marc Rushton of StereoNet Australia

Recent reports released by Nielsen in the US suggest downloads of digital music tracks and albums fell in the first half of 2014, while vinyl LP sales and music ‘streaming’ services continue to show growth.

Compact Disc sales continued on a downward spiral, dropping another 20% and edging closer to being out-performed in total album sales for the first time by digital downloads.

Vinyl LP sales rose over 40%, and while media outlets and labels worldwide continue to ‘hype’ this growth, it remains only a mere fraction of CD and digital album downloads.

The fastest mover is on-demand music streaming services, such as Pandora, Qobuz, Spotify and many more, up 42% on the previous year and tipped to continue its strong growth.

“Streaming’s 42 percent year-over-year growth and vinyl LP’s 40 percent increase over last year’s record-setting pace shows interest in buying and consuming music continues to be robust, with two very distinct segments of the industry expanding substantially,” said Nielsen Entertainment senior VP David Bakula.

While the Nielsen figures reflect U.S. tracking of music sales, Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) reported last year that digital music was already outselling physical music for the first time. Vinyl LP sales in Australia last year also enjoyed a 77% increase.

Australian hi-fi wholesalers and retailers are also reporting that they're rarely selling CD players, and most major brands now offer streaming or ‘digitally connected’ players in their product range. There's now an ever-increasing amount of turntables now available on the market also.

Could this be the end for the compact disc, the 120mm piece of polycarbonate that marked the end of the humble cassette tape? Between digital downloads, on-demand streaming, and the slow but steady resurgence of vinyl, I’d suggest that’s a resounding YES

......... Marc Rushton (StereoNet)