Like the film cameras and film-based home movie cameras; transistor radios and the Sony Walkman; 8-track tape cartridges and the compact cassette, Beta and VHS videotapes, the venerable 36-year old CD, compact disk, is dead or dying.
Major retailers like Best Buy will stop carrying all, but the most popular CDs in their stores and others such as Target are trying to implement a rack-jobbing consignment model where a distributor’s personnel stocks the rack and the store pays only for what has been sold. The tale is told by the numbers which have seen a decline in CDs from a peak in 2001 (712 million CDs) to approximately 85.4 million CDs in 2017. A drop of 88% in sales noted by Nielsen Music.
While many claim that the decline is attributable to streaming data services with large on-demand libraries, others are not so sure; attributing the loss to music publisher’s stacking of a few hits with a number of less popular titles and selling the CD for a price that is becoming increasingly unacceptable to the consumer. Other than enthusiasts, collectors, and hard-core fans, most consumers of music are content to download and store only favorite selections in the abundant storage available on most electronic devices. Pricing used to drive piracy – but most recordings have an extremely short shelf life due to the shorter attention spans of younger consumers and the ability of today’s electronics to make almost anyone into a competent musician or vocalist.
Many music industry professionals believe that the music business is dead and that profits can only be obtained from 360-degree contracts that cover live performances, merchandise sales, as well as the actual sale of the performance itself.
In data processing, the 750-megabyte CD has given way to the 4.7 gigabyte DVD format, which itself is giving way to 256-gigabyte memory sticks. Most laptop computers no longer have an optical drive, and they are available as USB-connected accessories.
Time to consider how to best perserve the technology capable of playing these legacy products or developing a scheme to preserve the inhernt value locked in an obsolete format.