The CD is slowly dying as retailers like Best Buy and Target phase them out

“The beleaguered compact disc, made increasingly obsolete in the age of streaming, now has found itself in the bargain bin,” Kavita Kumar reports for The Star Tribune. “Richfield-based Best Buy, once one of the bigger music retailers with several aisles of CDs, now has a time capsule to another era jumbled up inside the $5.99 bargain bin. Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Who, Cat Stevens, Billy Ocean, Lionel Richie — all a nod to the aging demographics of those who still buy them. ‘Does anybody remember the last time they bought a CD?’ Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly asked rhetorically earlier this year in confirming the retailer is ‘de-emphasizing’ the category.”

“CDs have been in a freefall for more than a decade. In recent years, Best Buy’s collection had been reduced to a single row. Displays of iTunes gift cards can be found more easily and plentifully in its stores than CDs,” Kumar reports. “Target, too, is cutting back on its CD selection. The Minneapolis-based retailer still sells new releases, but in October 2016 it pulled back on the number of catalog, or previously released, CDs it carries from about 300 to 100.”

compact disc“The Electric Fetus, the venerable Minneapolis record store that is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, has been slowly but steadily shrinking the space for CDs in its stores over the years. But CDs still account for half of its music sales, tied with LPs, said Bob Fuchs, the shop’s music retail manager,” Kumar reports. “Some of those regulars own 1,000 to 2,000 CDs and like the quality of sound compared to streaming and other options. ‘They’ve been collecting for 20-plus years. They’re not changing formats again. A lot of people are like, ‘This is it. I’m going to ride this out for the next 20 years as long as they still make them.””

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The few phystical CDs that iPod+iTunes Store couldn’t stamp out, iPhone+Apple Music will.

16 Comments

    1. It’d be different if Apple offered lossless 16/48 & 24/48 & up (and shame on them for not doing so already – yet more lack of leadership) but CD’s were the only way to get reasonable high quality. Thankfully there are some sites who do offer HQ audio bitrates but they certainly don’t have everything. Funny thing is vinyl still seems to be trending.

    2. Not to mention normalized within an inch of it’s audio life which only offers more distortion in return for the extra loudness and lazy consumers who don’t want to simply turn up the gain on their gear. Dynamic range anyone? Apple should offer HDR audio which sounds incredible. For all their vaunted appreciation of music they sure don’t do much to back it up.

  1. “Some of those regulars own 1,000 to 2,000 CDs and like the quality of sound compared to streaming and other options. …” While I don’t own 1,000+ CDs (more like a couple hundred), even my aging ears can tell the difference between CD quality sound and every streaming service I’ve tried—at least for the music I like. And yes, I also have some copies of certain offerings at higher quality and media than CD.

    When the streaming services offer a lossless CD quality service I’ll switch. Until then, I’ll search for, and buy, CDs of the music I like. (Then I convert them to ALAC for those that I do listen to on my computer, which is only a subset of the full complement of CDs I have.)

    And finally, yes, I know I’m the exception. But, it will be a damn unfortunate day when music quality no longer matters and people are only offered the quality of what virtually all streaming services are offering. What’s next? Masters that are recorded at the equivalent of MP3?

  2. Something Apple never tells you when pimping their services. Steve would be rolling in his grave how far quality has degraded. CDs rule not just for quality, but affordable, portable and rip it to devices.

    I have had a BAD experience with iTunes. Only bought two complete albums. One had 50 hits and only the first five played, the rest showed up in the playlist, but were grayed out in iTunes App.

    Second album plays completely on my iPhone. When I go to play it on my new Jeep I get an error message it cannot play. Now, I don’t know if this is the fault of Jeep or Apple.

    But what I do know, it doesn’t just work. So, I’ll take quality CDs any day of the week …

  3. I’m just getting started with divesting myself of a jumbled collection of cassette tapes going back to that must-have, Liberace’s 16 Most Requested Songs. It’s been a strangely satisfying experience, but I can’t help but wonder who has been picking up my discards from the give-away table in the office lunch room.

  4. There is very little new music of quality worth me getting a high quality recording of. Most people are using devices not capable of delivering the sound quality, so what does it really matter? /ICanHearYouSayingGetOffMyLawn

  5. I don’t use the disks but I will occasionally buy both the digital and physical copy just purely for the booklets. I guess artists could just start selling art books with codes to download the album’s digital copy.

  6. Call me old fashioned but I am one of those guys that have a few thousand CDs (tells you how old I am I guess). Been collecting them since I was a post-doc at UCLA back in 1984.
    Music quality aside, like others I like to hold the album in my hand. I like to hear other songs from the artist and not just the one or two songs that people normally download.
    Seeing CDs declining or records in general does not bode well for music methinks. I hope I am wrong.

  7. I like to own my music, I want it accessible, and I want the best quality. I don’t do streaming, subscriptions, or vinyl- a romanticized nostalgia for an inferior and always flawed quickly degradable technology. There is always good new music if you know where to look, and so far CD’s are the best bet. Then again, we live in an idiocracy, the more “advanced” we become the stupider we get as a culture. Just got my new Rolling Stone in the mail. I need a time machine- I’ve got toilet paper far more useful to me than what this world is currently about.

  8. Add to this the simply awful sound of earbuds vs. a big-ass component audio system… simply can’t compare. I enjoy The Who shaking the walls and windows even if my neighbors don’t..

  9. Its not the iPhone + iTunes for me its the WATCH + iTunes that is killing any other media. For walking, running, working out, working in the yard or around the house that combo is just HEAVEN. Now that the Apple Watch has 16 Gig of physical storage (for the more than 3,000 songs I own) and it will play Apple Music downloaded or streamed songs its just amazing. Once you try it you can’t go back. I also think it will be great for podcasts too.

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