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Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
5:24 PM Tue, Nov. 13th

CD music format appears to be on death bed, but still showing a pulse

Mike Suchowierski, right, manager of the ARC Thrift Store in Kingman, and team member Tac Chapell sort through used CDs for sale for 50 cents. While new CD sales are down 90 percent, used CD sales are on the rise. (Photo by Hubble Ray Smith/Daily Miner)

Mike Suchowierski, right, manager of the ARC Thrift Store in Kingman, and team member Tac Chapell sort through used CDs for sale for 50 cents. While new CD sales are down 90 percent, used CD sales are on the rise. (Photo by Hubble Ray Smith/Daily Miner)

They get scratched, broken and trashed, but old records never die.

Vinyl recordings end up in the hands of collectors, on shelves at used record stores and vintage shops, and listed on eBay, often selling for multiples of the original price. A rarity in prime condition can fetch more than $100.

You can find Mantovani, Andy Williams and Barry Manilow albums for $1 at almost any thrift store, but records by the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan are hidden like jewels and priced accordingly.

CDs, or compact discs, on the other hand, are tracking toward the grave.

CD sales have tumbled 90 percent since the late 1990s when more than 2 billion CDs were sold each year worldwide, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

A 2018 mid-year report from RIAA shows $245 million in total sales, a drop of more than $200 million from the same period a year ago.

Today’s youth are turning to the latest music technology, downloading songs from Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music.

New car models are built without a CD player, instead equipped with USB ports and BlueTooth capability. Drivers connect to music through their cell phones and other digital sources. It’s getting more difficult to find new CD players for sale.

Retailers such as Walmart, Best Buy and Target have discontinued or reduced CD sales, gradually clearing out inventory. There’s still demand for CDs with more than $1 billion in 2017 sales, the RIAA reported, but sales are predominantly through online sources such as Amazon.

While sales of new CDs have been trending down, independent retailers have found the used market is on the rise. Sales at Discogs, an online marketplace for buying and selling vinyl and CDs, increased 28 percent in 2017 from the previous year.

Nobody’s going to brag about their impressive CD collection like they would about their vinyl, but they haven’t completely scrapped the musical format.

A Kingman Walmart shopper said he’s collected about 200 CDs, but was still looking to add vintage country CDs. “I’m on the computer all day. I don’t want to get my music from it,” he said.

Mike Suchowierski, manager of ARC Thrift Store in Kingman, said it’s a constant turnover in the used CD racks.

“I think it’s more the price,” he said. “Because let’s face it, where can you go to buy one for 50 cents?”

Sales of vinyl and CDs accounted for 17 percent of the music industry’s revenues in 2017, compared with 15 percent for digital downloads. Streaming sources, including SiriusXM Satellite Radio and online radio networks, brought in 65 percent of the revenue.

Paid subscriptions were the biggest growth driver for the music industry in 2017, according to the RIAA revenue report. Year-over-year revenue growth of 63 percent brought total subscription revenues to more than $4 billion for the first time, making it by far the biggest format of recorded music in the United States.

“We’re delighted by the progress so far, but to put the numbers in context, these two years of growth only return the business to 60 percent of its peak size – about where it stood 10 years ago – and that’s ignoring inflation,” RIAA Chief Executive Officer Cary Sherman said about the 2017 report. “And make no mistake, there’s still much work to be done in order to make this growth sustainable for the long term.”