Once again stories about the death of the CD have been grossly exaggerated. A study of this week’s Australian Top 10 ARIA album chart by The Noise Network shows that most fans prefer the physical format over streams and downloads.
Three 40+ year old Top 10 artists, Pete Murray, The Beatles and Roger Waters, understandably generated a high percentage of physical sales. However, the format of choice for pop based Ed Sheeran and Harry Styles and alt-rock Alt-J and All Time Low fans was also the CD.
50% of purchasers for Ed Sheeran’s ‘divide’ album were for the CD/LP format last week. 30% bought the album as a download and only 20% of sales came from fans who streamed the album.
56% of Harry Styles fans bought the physical disc ahead of download (24%) and streams (18%). (ARIA started including streaming in its chart figures in May, 2017).
There was only one exception in the Top 10 in favour of streams. 52% of Kendrick Lamar ‘Damn’ sales were based on streaming, while CD was 26% and downloads 22%.
If we go back 15 years to when Napster was the thing, rap acts traditionally were the most pirated acts. It seems rap fans still loath paying music but will toss a few bucks Spotify’s way these days to get their music.
Ed Sheeran’s earlier 2014 album ‘X’ was mainly sold as a download (36%) followed by streams (35%) and 29% sold as a physical disc. The sales for the three-year old ‘X’ album were fuelled by his major tour announcement and were not a high volume stock in the Warner warehouse at the time of the announcement.
The telling factor in this breakdown is the figures for Alt-J and All Time Low. Both fan-bases sit within the 20-39 demographic yet both favour CD sales ahead of downloads and streams.
Here is how this weeks Australian Top 10 albums breaks down by format:
1. Ed Sheeran – divide
sales = 30% download, 20% stream, 50% CD
2. Halsey – Hopeless Fountain Kingdom
sales = 47% download, 15% streams, 38% CD
3. Pete Murray – Camacho
sales = 36% download, 2% streams, 62% CD
4. Alt-J – Relaxer
sales = 44% download, 10% streams, 46% CD
5. All Time Low – Last Young Renegade
sales = 34% download, 6% streams, 40% CD
6. The Beatles – Sgt Pepper
sales = 11% download, 2% streams, 83% CD
7. Roger Waters – Is This The Life We Really Want
sales = 20% download, 1% streams, 79% CD
8. Harry Styles – Harry Styles
sales = 24% download, 18% streams, 56% CD
9. Kendrick Lamar – Damn
sales = 22% download, 52% streams, 26% CD
10. Ed Sheeran – X
sales = 36% download, 35% streams, 29% CD