Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The CD's Not Dead Yet

As much as you hear about the traditional music business being dead, I'd be careful about believing it yet. A new study by the measurement company shows that the CD may not be as spry as it used to be, but it's still alive and more well than you might think.

The Mint chart on the left shows a number of items well worth noting:

1) The spending per transaction for CD's were way ahead of digital, which was expected, but by this much? (a CD retailer that also owns the Sam Goody's brick and mortar chain) raked in $34 per transaction, CD Baby was $22, and the closest digital distributor was the subscription service Rhapsody. Surprisingly, iTunes brings up the rear with only $7 per transaction. That's deceiving though because it means at least 6 purchases per transaction (depending upon the price point), which is far ahead of the others.

2) iTunes transactions per month are climbing, and at a much higher rate than their digital music competitors, especially from January to July 2009. It seems that all that competition is hurting iTunes' competitors a lot more than iTunes.

3) CD sales are declining in relation to digital sales though, and that number is still accelerating. 34% of total music sales is in the digital domain, but that means that 64% are still CDs, so don't give up on the physical product just yet.

4) The reasons for the decline in CD sales are confirmed by a new study by Harvard Business School Associate Professor Anita Elberse (not seen on the Mint chart) which states the obvious:

"when consumers start buying music online, they switch from buying full albums to cherry-picking their favorite songs...each album no longer bought is "traded in" for one, perhaps two, individual songs"

"a drop of around one-third of the total weekly sales across the album and its associated songs is directly attributable to people switching to buy music online"

All of which means that when you only buy a song or two instead of a CD or two, total music sales income suffers. But we knew that already.

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