CDs still sell: Who are these people?!?

CDs still sell: Who are these people?!?

Summary: Apple's iTunes music juggernaut accounts for 25 percent of music sold. The rub: Sixty-five percent of you are still buying CDs for your music in the first half of 2009, according to research firm NPD.

TOPICS: Amazon, Apple

Apple's iTunes music juggernaut accounts for 25 percent of music sold. The rub: Sixty-five percent of you are still buying CDs for your music in the first half of 2009, according to research firm NPD.

The big question today: Who are these people still buying CDs? Sam Diaz notes even his dad has gone digital. NPD allays the digerati by noting that digital downloads will represent half of music sales by the end of 2010 (statement, Techmeme). Great, then we'll all get to ask who is still buying CDs all over again.

So who are these CD lovers?

  • They're the same bunch still subscribing to AOL dial-up.
  • They're the same folks that still like albums.
  • They're the same people that read liner notes.
  • They're also a lot like me once in a while---People that would rather have the source material instead of screwing around with various formats (I also buy from Amazon's MP3 store).

Among the notable NPD statistics:

  • CDs were 65 percent of all music sales with digital downloads accounting for the remainder.
  • Apple iTunes represents 25 percent of music units (including digital and CDs) sold.
  • Wal-Mart accounts for 14 percent of music volume (digital and CDs).
  • For digital music, iTunes had 69 percent of the market followed by Amazon at 8 percent.
  • For CDs, Walmart was the big dog with 20 percent of the market followed by Best Buy at 16 percent and Target and Amazon (10 percent each).

My read:

  • I doubt that CDs will fall too far below the 50 percent mark largely because it's easier to port songs in a physical format. Anyone that has tried to use a non-iPod player knows the importance of having a CD lying around.
  • Apple's music domination could attract more regulatory attention in a few years.
  • Big box retailers are still an efficient way to move music sales, but they'll need a digital strategy if CD sales continue to fall.

Topics: Amazon, Apple

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  • who buys cds? why buy cds?

    own/control music (no DRM issues)!
    control quality/type of rip (mp3, wma, bit speed etc)!
    if you want the entire cd's music why buy track by track?
  • RE: CDs still sell: Who are these people?!?

    I buy um. Always nice to have the real thing around. They often have pictures, background info and printed lyrics that may or may not be available online. Besides, when I have the CD I know I don't need to worry about backing up the ripped copy on my mp3 player.
  • It's nice to have physical media,

    can be ripped in to your iTunes, played in car, will keep in a box in the garage for years, can be sold on ebay to recover some monetary value, etc.
    • No remote disabling based on court decisions

      They can take my CD from my cold, dead hands. Otherwise it's mine!
  • real-world object vs. digital representation

    this can be argued on many, many levels, after all, it's a physical compact disc that contains a digital recording of live music, or a synthesized musical mixdown of multiple takes and sound elements...

    there are still substantial benefits to having the real-world object: you can touch the thing, invoking more senses and implanting the memory across more neural pathways; you can easily make a digital representation; the designed artwork is actually there... end-to-end; the liner notes can be held; a wall of CD spines is still a great way to browse your music collection; it's easy to share and creates a social obligation, something we still do with DVDs

    that's a start ;)
  • Me!

    A computer crash doesn't wipe out a CD. It's harder to lose a CD on a shelf than a file on a computer. A retailer can't remotely delete it from my hard drive on a whim. I don't need an internet connection or a remote server to authorise my listening to or copying a song. I can make as many copies of a CD as I want to as many PCs as I want. I can rip a CD in any format (I've already ripped my collection at least four times - originally at about 64 kps, then 128, then 192, and lastly lossless - twice: once WMA lossless and once iTunes lossless).

    For today's ADD crowd where they forget something the moment they see the next shiny object, perhaps temporary downloaded songs are good enough. But for me, songs encorporate memories of my life at the time I bought the CD, and I value those memories.
  • Apple controls CD sales

    Apple's monopoly on the music business surely extends to the music CDs sitting on the shelf at every Walmart not to mention many convenience stores. I'm trying to figure what cut out of CD sales Apple gets.

    What? Apple doesn't have a monopoly? You could have fooled me given all the hyperbole around here...

    Every market has a #1 seller, but the vast majority aren't accused of being monopolies, especially when their share doesn't come close to cracking 50%.
  • Packaging, among other reasons

    I just finished listening to a disc that illustrates exactly the reason I buy CDs. Beautifully packaged, a multilingual hardcover booklet with art and history to illustrate the musical period. When Apple sorts out its new album format, whatever they provide cannot match. I'll have it for decades to come. Need to take it along with me? Rip it to my own specifications and requirements.
    • Packaging, contd.. (AOL)

      I should also add, I'm most definitely not the AOL dial-up type. If anything, my understanding of technology fuels my reasons against buying music digitally. I know the risks, and I don't forget about events like the Walmart DRM server shutdown.
  • Who are they?

    "They're the same bunch still subscribing to AOL dial-up."

    BS Larry. Don't you think this is just a little too condescending? And besides, there are parts of the world that don't have broadband yet, so get off of your high horse!

    They are folks who don't give a rat's a$$ about being on the bleeding edge of technology.

    They have CD players in their cars, and most likely in their homes, and the purchase of an MP3 player is not necessary to them.

    I have two iPods...but I still burn CDs from iTunes, so I can play the albums in my cars...all four of them (cars...not albums).

    And I buy CDs of music not available on iTunes. iTunes doesn't have every album ever produced...really.

    Also, it's much nicer to give a gift of a CD, rather than a gift certificate for a download.

    So you see...there are plenty of reasons to buy CDs.
    • AOL dialup? NOT!!

      Yeah AOL dialup? NOT! I would never put the trash on ANY of my PC's. I have high speed on my PC AND my phone. I want to hold the real thing and that is not changing anytime soon. Don't be such a condescending jerk!
      • Well whooptydoo for you a$$hole.

        Glad you have your head so firmly stuck up your a$$ that you are unaware of people who don't have access to ANY highspeed connections.

        You are one pathetic loser.
  • RE: CDs still sell: Who are these people?!?

    I still buy CDs. I've <i>never</i> subscribed to AOL, and I hardly ever buy CDs from Walmart, preferring instead Amazon or Sound Shop when it was still in this area.

    I buy CDs for the packaging (Storm Thorgerson's work isn't nearly as impressive when it's postage-stamp size) and for added quality (I'll even occasionally spring for the SACD or DVD-Audio version of an album).
  • Apparently your playmate Jennifer Bergen is just as clueless.
  • And Me!

    I hate the sound of lossy compressed music. MUDDY!! I rip all my music with lossless compression. Great sound, no DRM issues. And if my hard drive goes south, I still have the original CDs.
  • I buy some

    I've decided to stop funding the RIAA's "war" against me! So now I rarely buy music at all. No, I don't pirate it. I just decided to listen to what I already own plus whatever I happen to hear free on FM radio. Screw 'em all. They can all dry up and blow away.

    That said, on rare occasion I will really enjoy a new artist, and then I'll go buy a CD. Sometimes I also pick up a used CD for $2-$5 to add to my collection.

    CDs come with some nice cover art and sometimes lyrics. Most importantly, I can rip these into any format I want without any DRM. And I can use them as Christmas ornaments, frisbees, or sell or gift them at any time. Not sure I can do any of those things with downloaded music! ;)
  • They're ME!!

    I haven't had AOL since 1997.
    I was the first person in my neighborhood to have broadband ( in 1999).
    We have 8 PCs in the house including 4 laptops, a media server in in the basement, 1 distribution node and 2 gaming pc's.
    In addition to 2500+ CDs I still have lots of vinyl. (close to 2000, MANY unavailable as CD, much less for download).
    I like to read the liner notes.
    I like to look through the shelf and notice a CD or Album and think "I haven't heard that in a while" and take it down for a listen.
    I like knowing that if my iPod fries I don't have to worry about fighting with iTunes to load a replacement.
    Don't get me wrong. Most of the collection is available on the server and can be streamed to the rest of the house, but there's a lot to be said for having the physical media.
  • I buy AND sell!

    For the selling part - anyone who may be interested in some music made by a couple of Dilberts, head on over to and take some off our hands!!
  • RE: CDs still sell: Who are these people?!?

    And don't for get high-end audiophiles where the
    CD represents the highest quality format for most
    music you can purchase today. Plus some of us like
    liner-notes too. I won't start turning away from the
    CD until digital album downloads are higher quality
    than CD, offer liner-notes, and fully DRM-free.
  • wrong facts, as always on zdnet

    iTunes holds 25 percent of all U.S. music sales.
    not " 25 percent of the digital downloads sold" of that it
    holds 70%.

    man, is it so hard to do some facts checking / proof reading
    on zdnet?