We don’t have as much time for music CD’s anymore

May 29, 2007 | By | 7 Replies More

Why are CD sales down?  Rather than blaming piracy, this article in Business Week suggests that there are only so many hours in a day, and we are increasingly busy entertaining ourselves in ways other than listening to CDs:

There are only so many hours in a day for each of us — the consumers of entertainment — to consume entertainment. Various new forms of entertainment that catch on have to displace some of the time we spent on our former diversions.

While CD sales are down, the number of households with DVD players more than tripled over the past five years to 84 million and sales of DVDs rose to 1.1 billion from 313 million in 2001. Does anyone really think that consumers could buy 800 million more DVDs, worth $10 billion or more, without cutting back on some other entertainment spending? Similarly, the number of households with broadband Internet connections almost quadrupled to over 36 million. At $30 a month, that’s another $9 billion a year right there. The number of households with access to video on demand hit 24 million in 2005, ten times the 2001 level.

This article backs up its thesis with some interesting statistics regarding the way we’ve reallocated our entertainment hours over the past five years. 


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Category: Consumerism, Entertainment

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (7)

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  1. Ben says:

    Think about disposable income. Money isn't worth as much as it used to. Can't even get lunch for 5 bux anywhere anymore. The future remains uncertain, as always. What we do know is that America is in debt. Those of us who know how debt works, know that this can be (is) a viscious cycle.

    Also, satellite radio is growing, and ITunes, IPods, IRacks…

  2. grumpypilgrim says:

    Music CD sales are down also because many music fans download music from the Internet (legally or not), instead of buying it on CD. Many people also make MP3s from CDs they borrow from friends, so they don't have to buy the CD.

    One casualty of falling CD sales was Tower Records, once one of America's most well-known CD retailers. It went bankrupt in 2006 and has closed all of its retail stores in the U.S. It continues to sell music CDs, but now only through its website.

    The music industry seems to cause most of its own problems when it comes to declining sales. It seems to treat all customers as enemies and resists virtually all new technologies that make music easier for customers to enjoy. Consequently, customers rebel, and feel no shame in getting music for free. The industry would have been a lot better off if it had embraced customer demands for downloadable music, file sharing, MP3s, etc., but it was too entrenched in its decades-old distribution channels, and apparently too arrogant to care what customers wanted.

  3. Mary says:

    I've noticed that the time I spend on the internet also causes me to spend less time watching television, not that I spent that much time watching TV before, but there's definitely a difference. I still like CDs, but more for the packaging than for the actual music format. By packaging, I mean the booklet with the art, lyrics and credits. It's what I miss most about record albums, too. I think I could easily switch over to MP3s if I had the money to buy a player and speakers. (I don't want the music fed directly into my ears.) I'd still miss the art & lyrics, though. There as much a part of a musician's image as the music is.

  4. gatomjp says:

    I miss album covers too Mary. The art of the album cover was a genre unto itself and it is gone, gone, gone.

  5. Erika Price says:

    I agree with the other commenters. I don't think the switch to DVDs and other forms of media have caused the decline in music industry sales. Perhaps a combination of the two factors may explain things: since consumers spend more on DVDs, computers, game consoles, and other forms of entertainment, something has to give. Fortunately for the average consumer, they can cut a huge dent in their entertainment costs by not paying for music. So yes, pirating does occur and comes at a high cost to the music industry, but the increasing cost of entertainment may partly account for why so many resort to it.

    Remarkably, many people just refuse to see it as theft. Downloading a song seems so removed, so much like a victimless crime that most people can do it with a sense of moral impunity. The popularity of music piracy makes this even easier. Film piracy has increased now, as well, as many people finally have computers fast enough to download and burn large movie files. I can only see these problems increasing.

  6. Mary says:

    gatomjp – I'd love to see album art transformed to meet new music technology. Because so many songs are now sold as singles, I think that the lyrics for each song should be printed on its own card – I call them Lyrics Cards. Lyrics Cards would be like trading cards, with all the fabulous artwork, and would be the size of CD booklets right now. Why that size? 'Cause it's already darned difficult to read the print size on CD booklets, so you can't go any smaller, and we all have CD cases hanging around, so we could recycle these cases as Lyrics Card holders. I've posted about this at my blog. Here's the direct link: http://filterandsplice.blogspot.com/2007/01/album

  7. gatomjp says:

    Mary: What a great idea! I know my 16 year old daughter is constantly downloading lyrics for songs that she then reads on her computer while listening to the song play in iTunes. You may be on to something!

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