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CD sales continue to fall behind digital downloads

Newly released figures, from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), show that a mere 41 million shiny compact discs were bought by consumers between January and June. This is a considerable drop down from the 56.8 million units sold during the same period in 2014.

In contrast digital downloads and music streaming are proving very popular. Music streaming in particular is proving a success. In the same period revenues from playing music over the Internet climbed by 23 percent and stand at a staggering £1 billion. This means that people are preferring to play music rather than own it as a physical medium. Music streaming account for over a third of the income generated by record companies from music sales. Companies offering streaming services, according to CNET, include Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Rhapsody, Amazon, Rdio, Deezer and Google Music.

Overall, the U.S. music industry has earned $3.17 billion for the year-to-date. Digital downloads remain the most profitable medium, worth $1.3 billion for the latest period. This shows that a sizable number of people still want to “own” the music (even if it is in the form of an mp3.)

Not every music lover is a fan of digitized music, criticizing the “tinny” sound. It is perhaps for this reason that vinyl sales remain strong. Plenty of music fans still love the crackle of the needle upon plastic, reading along to the lyric sheet or gazing at the album artwork. In the U.S., vinyl sales have grown 52 percent in the first half of 2015, allowing record labels to make $222 million. What is more remarkable about this figure for old fashioned vinyl is that it now accounts for half of the amount the compact disc sales generate. There really is a vinyl revival happening.

Speaking with the BBC, RIAA Chairman Cary Sherman noted that the figures showed “the story of a business undergoing an enormous transition.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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