While the sale of CDs and vinyl has been declining for years, in 2017, physical media outsold digital downloads. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) 2017 Revenue Report, the sale of CDs vinyl made up 17 percent while digital downloads made up 15 percent of the total income.

The majority of the income comes from music streaming. This means that instead of buying directly from the store, iTunes or other places, customers are paying for a monthly streaming subscription of some kind.

People are choosing to skip going to their local record store or deciding not to pre order their favorite band’s new album and are instead waiting for it to become available on their favorite streaming platform.
“It’s a lot cheaper to purchase a monthly subscription than to buy songs on their own or as an album,” said Plattsburgh State sophomore Hailey Frey.

The premium Pandora streaming service costs $9.99 a month and a premium subscription to Spotify, another streaming service, costs the same per month.

“I use Spotify premium all the time,” said PSUC student Madison Odom, “because I don’t have to keep buying new music or get new music for friends who request a certain song.”

A band recently released a new album containing 11 tracks with the total running time of 43 minutes. The album in CD form costs around $12 and the album on vinyl costs around $18 dollars. The same album on the Google Play store costs $10.49 with $0.99 cents per song if someone were going to buy them individually.

With a subscription to Spotify and Pandora, access to any song becomes available as each comes out for less. For around the same price of a single digital album or less than a physical copy, access to millions of songs is available on streaming services such as Spotify.

“Cheap options are always better since I don’t work during the school year,” Frey said. “It’s really nice not having to purchase every album or song I want as they come out.”
Spotify isn’t all about the fact that it’s cheap; it’s also convenient. One of the features of Spotify premium is that customers can listen to any song anywhere.

The benefits of Spotify’s portability and inexpensiveness surpass the availability and accessibility of the other older forms.

This doesn’t mean that physical and digital copies are going to completely disappear. When digital downloads were released, the sales of CDs and vinyl declined. In 2017, vinyl sales and CD surpassed the sale of digital downloads.

The increase in vinyl popularity has prompted Sony to start making them again; however, some retail stores such as Best Buy are taking CDs completely off the shelf in the near future.
As of now, digital downloads have become less convenient and streaming has taken over, but it might not last forever.

Email Abby Talcott at fuse@cardinalpointsonline.com

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