When Taylor Swift fans went to music stores to buy her new release ‘1989’ Noise11 researched the claim that “the CD is dead” and found it a long way from the truth.
A breakdown of first week sales in the USA shows that only 50% of Taylor’s 1.298 million first week sales with digital. The rest were physical CD sales.
In Australia last week the percentage of Taylor Swift CD sales was even bigger. Of her 21,610 sales in week two on sale in the Australian market the ‘1989’ album managed 9,122 download sales compared to 12488 CD sales or about 41% digital sales.
The figures make a farce of “the CD is dead” naysayers. Their ‘death of the CD’ call sounds like that “bring out your dead” scene in the Monty Python Holy Grail movie.
Of the Top 10 albums in Australia in the past week four albums did better digitally but two of those were split fairly evenly.
The Calvin Harris ‘Motion’ album was the clear download winner with 6879 downloads to 1211 in its debut week before stores were fully stocked.
Flight Facilities ‘Down To Earth’ also had a good download week with 1418 download sales to 748 CDs.
The other two Triple J’s ‘Like A Version 10’ and Hilltop Hoods ‘Walking Under Stars’ were more evenly divided. ‘Like A Version’ sold 1457 downloads to 1421 CDs and ‘Walking Under Stars’ sold 1225 downloads to 1079 CDs.
Along with Taylor Swift ‘1989’ the Top 10 albums selling better on CD were:
2. Human Nature – Jukebox sold 8827 CDs to 815 downloads
4. Ed Sheeran – X sold 4199 CDs to 3438 downloads
5. Soundtrack – Frozen sold 2726 CDs to 509 downloads
7. Slipknot – 5 The Gray Chapter sold 1770 CDs to 643 downloads
9. Barbra Streisand – Partners sold 2138 CDs to 105 downloads
The breakdown of the 62,219 sales in last weeks top 10 albums was 25612 downloads to 36607 CDs. In the overall Top 10 the CD was the clear winner.
The growth of downloads was forced onto the market by the music industry when the industry decided in its wisdom to eliminate the CD single thus removing the reason for younger music fans to visit music stores. Fans were forced online. In Australia, only Sony Music still releases the CD single for all Australian acts and chart hits. It should also be noted that Sony Music has the most success breaking pop acts in Australia with Justice Crew the labels best selling new act of 2014.
The perception that downloads sell more than CD is also more ‘smoke and mirrors’ from the music industry. For the Australian music industry a sale is a sale no matter the format or the price. One download sale from iTunes is given equal weight to one physical CD album from a music store. Therefore the claim that “downloads sell more than CDs” on that basis is technically correct.
Looking further down the chart in the Top 20 sales were:
11. Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour (1255 CDs Vs 842 downloads)
12. Neil Diamond – Melody Road (1810 CDs Vs 123 downloads)
13. You + Me – Rose Ave (1320 CDs Vs 586 downloads)
14. Susan Boyle – Hope (1535 CDs Vs 41 downloads)
15. Foo Fighters – Greatest Hits (1285 CDs Vs 262 downloads)
16. Annie Lennox – Nostalgia (1420 CDs Vs 692 downloads)
17. Karise Eden – Things Live Done (1261 CDs Vs 148 downloads)
18. The Smith Street Band – Throw Me To The River (338 CDs Vs 1046 downloads)
19. Ed Sheeran – + (303 CDs Vs 1031 downloads)
20. Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga – Cheek To Cheek (1233 CDs Vs 94 downloads)
Albums 1 – 10 sold 36607 CDs compared to 25612 downloads
Albums 11 – 20 sold 11760 CDs compared to 3804 downloads
The Australian Top 20 last week sold 48367 CDs to 29416 downloads or 61% CD sales to 39% downloads.
The statement that the download has killed the CD is false. It may be what some sectors of the music industry such as Universal Music want you to believe. However, the facts show Australians are still buying audio quality over convenience.