You’re reading this right: the compact disc is a ship sailing on ‘E’ and nearly all engines are failing. I just recently read an article from Side Line Music Magazine that states by the end of 2012, if not earlier, major music labels plan to sink the CD-format ship and replace them with download/stream only releases. To be honest, is this really a surprise? In my opinion, not really. In my own experiences with buying CDs, this decline doesn’t effect me at all. Take into account I can recall every CD I bought over the last six years:
- System of a Down- Hypnotize, Mesmerize
- Lamb of God- Ashes of the Wake
- Kittie- Until the End, Funeral for Yesterday
- Arch Enemy- Rise of the Tyrants
- In This Moment- Beautiful Tragedy
- Drowning Pool- Sinner
- Dir en grey- Uroboros: With Proof in the Name of Living. Live from Nippon Bodukan 2010
- The Very Best of the Rat Pack.
So where do the rest of the near 5,000 songs in my iTunes library come from? Downloading (maybe legal, maybe illegal). But, for as much as an album costs I spend twice as much–if not more–going to see bands in concert and buying merchandise.
Now back to you, CD enthusiasts. Finish crying and wipe away those tears because there is a silver lining: CDs will still be released. But, only for special and limited editions which, of course, will not be available for every artist.
The article continues to say that CD releases will be distributed by Amazon, which happens to be the biggest CD retailer in the world anyways. This would almost monopolize the CD market, making Amazon the one and only player in the distribution of CDs from major labels. On top of that, Amazon will offer its own MP3 streaming service alongside physical distribution.
We’ve seen this coming for a long time right? The CD is just another format in a long line of trends that have been thrown overboard into the Marianas Trench. Remember cassettes? What about 8-Tracks?
Why the change?
CDs can no longer keep up with the popularity of downloads and streaming music. In fact, CDs are no longer a cost effective format. Labels pay for distribution and stocking but if the CDs don’t sell, most send the unsold copies back to the label. This trend means big losses for music shops, many of which are having problems paying labels as is.
In Side Line’s release, the chief editor Bernard Van Isacker was asked if the CD would still exist in five years,
“Yes, but in a different format. Normal CDs will no longer be available because they don’t offer enough value. Limited editions, on the other hand, will remain available and in demand for quite a few more years. I, for one, buy only limited editions because of the added value they offer: a nice design, extra bonus gadgets, etc. The album as we know it now, however, will be dead within five years if it isn’t even sooner. I predict that downloads will have replaced the CD album within the next two years. I don’t see that as something negative, it just has run its course, let’s leave the space to limited editions (including vinyl runs for bigger acts) and downloads instead.”
What does this mean?
In the end, this decline means more money will be focused on marketing and press releases. This translates into big time opportunities and possibilities for companies and firms in the PR and marketing world. Heavy duty campaigns will be needed for artists when they release new music, merchandise, and tour dates to keep fans and listeners up-to-date on everything that they’re doing. A label, in conjunction with the artists they represent and endorse, will need to set up blast campaigns. This includes email marketing, social media blitzes, landing pages and more.
Most, if not all artists and labels use social media to send out blasts and online marketing campaigns to outreach and share with their followers. Did I mention, that’s how I found this article in the first place? When all is said and done, this provides a window for marketing, PR, and lead generation companies to gain business from the ever changing, evolving, and growing music and media industry.