Saturday Deluxe: 18 January 2020

SDE editor Paul Sinclair explores the BPI’s latest report into UK music consumption in 2019

Last week in the SDE Newsletter (subscribe here!) I wrote an exclusive editorial entitled ‘format wars’ which articulated my views on the so-called ‘vinyl revival’ and particularly the marginalisation of the CD format in mainstream music media. This gathered quite a bit of interest and comment, so I’m publishing it here on SDE in an expanded (but not remastered!) version, with some ‘bonus’ thoughts.

I want to make it clear that not only do I like vinyl, but I own thousands of vinyl records. I know there are some great things about vinyl but I’m also a big fan of the CD format and it pains me to see the industry adopting a rather laissez-faire attitude when it comes to promoting and to some extent protecting the format from what they seem to view as inevitable decline. So, without further ado, read the piece below. Figures are from the British Phonographic Industry’s (BPI) report from the beginning of this year. All data quoted is from the Official Charts Company.

Were you aware that 4.3m vinyl records were sold in the UK in 2019? Sounds impressive, but in the same period 23.5m CDs were also bought by music fans.

Not that you’d really know it. Music media seems obsessed in bending the narrative – and bending the knee – to the perceived ‘king’ of formats: VINYL. The coverage is such that unless you have access to the data, you’d presume – in sales terms – that vinyl and CDs were neck and neck, or even that vinyl was ahead. Whereas actually, the reality is that CDs still sell more than five times as many units as vinyl records, in the UK.

If you think I’m a paranoid CD fanboy imagining this, then below are are few examples:

• In October last year, UK radio station Classic FM ran a story with the headline “Vinyl records to outsell CDs in 2019 for the first time in 40 years“. If you read the article there are no facts (or even trends) to back this up. It’s simply not true. And just to add a bit of extra absurdity to the various assertions, the same article claims that it’s easy to see why people are moving to “sturdy” vinyl because CDs get “easily scratched”!

• Here’s another one. This month The Quietus reported that “Vinyl Sales Continued Their Ascent” in 2020, suggesting that vinyl would soon be atop some kind of sales ‘summit’. King of the castle. The truth – as the BPI’s latest figures show – is that 74 percent of music consumption in the UK is now via streaming, with 18 percent from physical album sales. That 18 percent equates to 28m physical albums sold in the UK, of which – wait for it – just 4.3m were vinyl. Around 15 percent of the total. CDs have 84 percent of that market. Despite the downward sales trend, even in their report, the BPI said that the CD was “resilient”. In terms of all album consumption, streaming comes first with ‘streaming equivalent albums’ numbering 114.2m, CDs next with 23.5m albums physically sold and then vinyl with 4.3m. But The Quietus assure us that vinyl continues its ‘ascent’!?

• One can’t blame The Vinyl Factory for promoting vinyl and not bigging up CDs, but at least get the facts right. They tweetedVinyl sales hit record growth in 2019‘ which is very misleading. Vinyl sales in 2018 were 4.2m units. Last year 4.3m units were sold. The growth figures are actually a modest – 4.1 percent year-on-year. Between 2015 and 2016 the growth figures were over 50 percent, so ‘growth’ has dropped dramatically. More bending of the knee/narrative.

Let’s not be coy, CD sales dropped by 26.5 percent last year, which is clearly a very big fall, but it’s frustrating, because sometimes it seems as if record labels have accepted the CD is doomed and there is nothing they can do about it.

One thing they could do is to actually release music on CD when there is an opportunity! After issuing the vinyl package in 2018, Universal Music took a whole year to issue the Police Every Move You Make box set on CD, Sony didn’t bother to release the last Bruce Springsteen remasters on CD (or the new ones) and last year’s Prefab Sprout reissues weren’t issued on compact disc either! BMG were virtually shamed into putting the 2018 Yazoo Four Pieces vinyl box out on CD in 2018, after initially announcing it was vinyl-only (fans complained bitterly on SDE and they relented) and back in 2017, Paul McCartney infamously wouldn’t include a fourth CD in his £130 Flowers in the Dirt box set, preferring to deliver this content via digital download! What is going on? The initiative known as Record Store Day, which is designed to help independent record shops prosper, virtually ignores CDs as well. Last week, when a twitter debate ensued after the SDE newsletter editorial, the official Record Store Day twitter feed tried to defend this saying they “work on a lot of CD-only projects”. Really? News to me! They also betray their favouritism to vinyl saying “the most ‘exciting’ format dominates.” Hmm.

What I find most frustrating is that the lack of proactivity. The CD made the industry BILLIONS and now that same industry has become the most fair-weather of friends. What measures are being implemented to stop or slow the natural decline? Seen any marketing campaigns recently promoting the benefits of CDs? Me neither. Meanwhile labels are ploughing time and effort into producing and marketing cassette tapes of which 80,000 were sold last year (mainly as trinkets in bundles, it has to be said).

Here’s something to consider. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1996 he realised that the operating system and hardware – in fact the entire Apple business – was doomed if Microsoft stopped supporting the Apple OS, with their Office suite of applications. He recognised this threat and took action, negotiating a deal with Bill Gates for a five-year commitment from Microsoft to release Microsoft Office for Macintosh.

I’m not unaware of the irony of referring to Steve Jobs, whose iPod and iTunes Music store had a terrible impact on physical music sales in the early 2000s, but you have to ask where were the visionaries in the music industry five to ten years ago who recognised the threat from car manufacturers to the CD format, as they sought to do away with CD players and switch to bluetooth audio streaming? People loved playing CDs in their car – and critically it was something you definitely couldn’t do with vinyl – so where were the partnerships, incentives, joint ventures with Ford, GM, BMW etc. to ensure that they supported what was – and still is – the most popular physical music format? If there were any, I don’t recall hearing about them. With no CD players in their new cars, consumers simply have another reason to stop buying them. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. “Who buys CDs anymore?”

If CDs outsell vinyl massively – which they do – then why does the format sometimes get ignored and treated like some kind of black sheep of the physical format family? Why not take action to slow the decline? What about people who don’t own a turntable and who aren’t millennials? They aren’t been given a choice. They, apparently, are expected to do without some of the latest reissues, which is a strange way to treat your customers. They are frustrated and have money burning a hole in their pocket because for these music fans streaming or digital downloads simply aren’t a substitute for owning the physical product, and they physical product they want is the compact disc.

If feels a bit like manipulation, if I’m honest. We were told to ditch vinyl and buy CDs in the late 80s and 1990s. Now we are being encouraged to buy vinyl again and if the CD is indeed trudging very slowly towards the cliff edge of extinction, the industry appears to be giving it a big shove in the back, to help it on its way!

Of course, I realise much of this is down to money. Vinyl is a more profitable product. You only have to look at The Allman Brothers Band box set that was announced this week. The five-CD edition is about £40, the 10LP vinyl set is TEN TIMES more at around £400. That’s an extreme example, but in general you’re looking at £10 for a new CD and £20 for a vinyl LP. The industry clearly see vinyl as a growing market and CDs as a declining one, but things can change very quickly. After exponential growth a few years ago, vinyl sales are showing signs of plateauing at around the 4-5m mark in the UK, and it was only a few years ago that digital album downloads (which fell by over 28 percent last year) were heralded as a new era for music ‘consumption’.

Streaming is now undoubtedly the future of music for the wider population. In 2010, 72.7 percent of all albums  were ‘consumed’ via physical products. Now ten years later that figure is down to 18.2 percent. The streaming market, which didn’t exist ten years ago, makes up 74.4 percent of all music consumption. We, my friends, are now part of a niche audience. A minority. I know plenty of people who no longer have a CD player in their house, or a turntable for that matter and just don’t ‘get’ owning a CD.

But hey, being in a club is good. It’s fun. It’s intense and we need to stick together. The music industry should value us, and our opinions and not play us for fools. Fans who have bought CDs for 30 years aren’t going to suddenly dump everything off at their local charity shop and be happy to ‘rent’ all their music monthly from a streaming service and neither will they switch to vinyl overnight just because they see Sgt.Pepper in Sainsbury’s in a vinyl rack opposite the chicken breasts, or because a journalist for a trendy publication writes about ‘the vinyl revival’. Stop manipulating us; stop these ‘vinyl-only’ remasters and show some respect. Time to bend the knee to the still passionate 40, 50, 60, 70 year olds who lined your pockets between the 1960s and the end of the 1990s.

Consider this. Putting cassettes to one side (and that really is a blip and pure manipulation) with 4.3m units sold, vinyl remains officially the least popular way to listen to music albums in the UK at this present time. Last year more albums were streamed (114.2m), more CDs were bought (23.5m) and even more digital albums were purchased (7.3m).

There is some light at the end of the rainbow. The BPI state in their report that “enthusiasts also love to feed their passion for music by investing in premium-quality collections and box sets. So while they may be buying fewer CDs as a whole, they are tending to spend more on enhanced versions of recordings featuring premium and collectible packaging.” I think we know who they are referring to.

Also, interestingly, the BPI reported that physical remains the “kingmaker for number one albums”, stating that in 29 out of the 52 weeks last year physical accounted for over HALF of the sales of the number one album. So physical is diminishing, as a proportion of the overall market, percentage wise, but punches above its weight in terms of influence.

What’s your view on this situation? Please leave a comment. The BPI has made some (not all) of the data available to the public, which can be viewed here.

323 responses to Saturday Deluxe: 18 January 2020


    …I hate plastic jewel boxes, collected thousands at home. If all CDs were edited as, for example, the Dukes Of Stratosphere editions (hard cardboard digipak with a book inside, precious for sure, content and continent), my collection will shine as my parallel vinyl collection…Thanks for the matter and the stupendous debate. Best wishes from Madrid City, Spain.

  2. David Steel says:

    I think we are fed too much shit years ago it was digital formats are far better sounding than analogue so ditch records now it’s the other way analogue we are told is a much better sounding you even watch pop stars promoting there products holding the vinyl up on talk shows I think we need to get to the bottom of this debate analogue v digital once and for all

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  4. Nigel L Bevan says:

    I would love to first comment that this is a diplomatic essay about music and eventhough I haven’t read everyones responses, which I will over coming days. There will be some serious debate.

    I’ve been a Music lover and purchaser since 1980. It’s always been about the Music. Vinyl was always my first love. The Walkman changed a lot of my listening habits. So, I bought both Vinyl and cassette upon releases. Then I found that vinyl warped or the stylus caused scratches which caused as I called jumping. I never used inferior hardware or stylus. But this was fact. I lost the use of many 12 inches and albums.

    I resisted the CD format until 88,89. It wasn’t until artists concentrated on this format did I truly embrace it. When genuine remasters became available and listening to them on a decent system it became obvious to me the CD is superior.

    It’s still my preference for Music and will continue to be. The internet fucked up the industry as we for a moment stopped buying CDs as we all felt paying £15 for a CD was too much. I remember downloading Depeche Mode Exciter two months before release date. I still bought it on release day as that’s my musical character. But this era of Internet destroyed music.

    I was working in music media at the time and the agenda of labels was how to recoup monies lost. The only way was to re-educate the public and resell vinyl. Via movies, journalism, TV etc.. This agenda is the only way too recoup monies. Example, show much does vinyl cost these days. I rest my case. We are been resold what we’ve already bought. Heavy Weight vinyl is the biggest rip off.

    I kept Picadilly Records in Manchester going and now they have pretty much dumped CDs. They haven’t had my business in 3 years I buy elsewhere. I still buy a lot of music so they have lost out.

    I’m not anti vinyl. I still have it but it is not my first choice of buying music and it never will be. Audio sound is more my thing so until a better source of format arrives its CDs for me.

    • Mick Mullahy says:

      Hi Paul
      Sorry for the late comment but, COULD NOT HAVE PUT IT BETTER !!!!!
      I’ve been buying vinyl since 1975 – first single, Bohemian Rhapsody, 45 pence please !
      Had hundreds of vinyl singles and albums. Used to go to Yanks in Manchester where you could brand new, sealed albums for 5op ! They were used as ballast when white goods were shipped here from America (hence the name !), so import duty wasn’t due on them. When the name was changed to Powercuts they started selling CDs too which were incredibly cheap again.
      I resisted buying CDs until 1990 when I spent £500 on a half decent Technics set of separates including CD player, so that was when I changed format.
      Since then I’ve probably bought a couple of dozen vinyl items – couple of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion coloured vinyl 7 inch singles in 1998. Some nice Johnny Thunders limited edition, coloured vinyl albums and 10 inch singles over the last couple of years. Recently bought a couple of coloured vinyl MC5 albums and last Christmas the 3 vinyl version of Live At Leeds from yourselves – great packaging on that one ! I bought the News if the World box set and the CD again is better sounding than the vinyl.
      But. But, but, but…….. ! About fifteen years ago I bought a Sony double deck CD recorder and started transferring my vinyl onto CD. And guess what ? The CD sounds better than the vinyl ! More brighter, crisper, fuller and LOUDER ! So if any of my friends question which format has the best sound they can hear it with their own ears ! I’ll play the same song on vinyl, CD, re-mastered CD on the Technics system through the same speakers and CD wins every time !
      Like one reader has pointed out – CD box set for £100 or vinyl version for a lot more, well it’s no contest.
      Yes some CD versions are disappointing – some early CDs had a tinny sound (Powerage by AC/DC) or album cover just copied from original vinyl so can’t read it or actually less photographs content on CD (Lizzy’s re-mastered Live and Dangerous). But they are in the minority.
      Ultimately it’s the sound quality we want and CD is the one that is best. This vinyl resurgence is a fad that will fade. Storage space is a major drawback with vinyl but isn’t with CD.
      Yes I have songs on my phone that I listen to in the car but they are albums I own.
      Finally, as everybody knows, you can get more music on a CD than vinyl, so value for money is a major plus point, as well as getting to hear unreleased tracks.
      Stay safe everybody

  5. Laura says:

    Paul, did you read last week’s article at Discogs about SACDS?

  6. Richard Lloyd says:

    Although I don’t actually play CDs directly any more, I still buy them in preference to MP3s (I hate streaming because you don’t own the tracks!) because they’re often cheaper than MP3s and act as a useful physical backup after you’ve ripped them to your preferred digital format.

    I upload my ripped CDs to Google Play Music for free (100,000 tracks allowed!) and them download them onto my phone/tablet’s microSD card for offline playback (I don’t understand people who use 4G to stream music while on the move – it’s a complete waste of your expensive data plan).

    An obvious example is Amazon UK, where a CD album is often cheaper then the equivalent MP3 album and regularly comes with Autorip if you really are too lazy to use CD ripping software. Just make sure they haven’t snuck in bonus MP3-only tracks compared to the CD, which does occasionally happen.

    Note that I’ve never bought anything vinyl in my life because the only advantage it has over CDs is larger artwork – it’s a worse medium in every other way compared to CD. I’ll tell you one thing I miss – the heyday of CD singles: 4 different songs (some non-album quite often) or 8 remixes of the song for 99p! Tori Amos was the “mistress of the CD single” in her early days – you oftem got an entire album’s worth of non-album tracks if you picked up all the CD single discs from an album!

  7. Chuck Salazar says:

    Excellent article, first level research! I congratulate you Paul … greetings from Mexico.

  8. Jim B says:

    A good article, Paul,

    I’m aware that there are some comments on vinyl quality and n area which I feel, merits more attention is the quality control of vinyl pressings.

    As a keen vinyl collector (blues/blues-rock/folk/folk-rock), my preference is for the earliest releases I can find (or afford) but I am frequently tempted by the new, well-packaged, re-issued box sets available on-line or in-store.

    The recent trend towards heavyweight pressings (180g to 200g) should help ensure that the audio(phile) customer gets the best experience possible. However, on a number of occasions over the past 3-4 years in particular, I have been caught out by pressing errors and pressing residue on LP surfaces. Apart from being very annoying, I suspect this has caused damage to my stylii on more than one occasion – and replacement or refurb costs are in my case, quite high!

    Normally there has been no issue in obtaining refunds or replacements for the records, but there is no compensation for the damage or hassle involved.

    In my experience, CDs don’t have the same quality issues.

    Regarding the Quality Control of vinyl pressings, what insights do you have?

  9. Mathew Lauren says:

    Wow! You put a lot of work behind this article, Paul, and I’m glad you posted it here (IN FULL) on SDE.com.

    Thanks and Great work!

    Very interesting read. I would be interested to see how this translates to “across the pond” (U.S. and Canadian) format sales.

    As for me, I guess I’m niche-niche, as I only purchase surround-sound discs (now), whether a dts-Cd, DVD-A/V or Blu-ray with my preference being 5.1 SACDs. If Cds are attached to any surround-sound SDEs, many times it ends up being another copy of something I already own, but now RM’d — and if I suddenly need/want a copy of something 2.0 Cd, I head to my local CdTraders (often a “second-hand” purchase). In fact, I think I’ve only purchased one, NEW, 2.0-item (“Aja” RM’d on Cd) in the last 5+ years!

    I was a vinyl guy. Always vinyl – and I made my own cassette copies from that virgin vinyl, but I don’t miss those days. My vinyl sits unused since the 80s or never opened and in pristine condition in surround-sound, SDE offerings.


  10. 1984 says:

    I don’t quite get the use of CDs, vinyl or cassettes. They all eat up a lot of space, but I also do not like streaming music as it is never really my own, stuff disappears and with it playlists too.

    I prefer digital downloads, wave, highres 24/192 or 24/96 although I know that’s it’s largely placebo so 16/44.1 is alright too, I’ll make mp3s from that on my own for two portable devices.

    The industry is rather lacking for those of us who want to buy digital, I have never ever gotten the lyrics and the artwork in pdf format so that I can at least read the lyrics etc whenever needed

  11. Lee says:

    As an avid vinyl collector of over 40 years, I am often amused as to the heated arguments about which format is “better”. Everyone, but everyone is going to have a subjective view on this because everyone is different (thankfully). I have had countless audio freaks try to convince me that CD’s were/are superior to vinyl and I remember getting quite offended by anyone that had the audacity to impose on me their rigid views on the matter. Yes, it is scientifically proven that digital music/CD’s are technically better than vinyl reproduction, but life does not need to be ALL about science and how it dictates what we should or shouldn’t do. We’re all different, but as far as music is concerned, we are all the SAME – we all love music! No matter how it is consumed. Why oh why do people get hung up on trying to insist that their way of consuming music is better than the next persons?
    In respect of how music products are to be marketed, well, since CD’s came into force in the early to mid 80’s, it has always been the case that whatever drives the market is the key – the industry doesn’t really care how we consume music, they only care about profit. Of course now vinyl is being marketed as a big cash cow, due to the huge markup to be made, some of the prices are clearly designed to rip music lovers off and I wholly resent that fact. The bottom may well fall out of the vinyl buying market because vinyl buyers will get fed up of being ripped off and stop buying, simple as that – it’s still a niche market, just more of a niche market than it was 10-15 years ago. Things are cyclical – formats will peak and trough in the future, but I don’t think the urge to handle physical product will ever wain – we are a tactile race. Ironically, CD’s will probably become as niche as vinyl became in the mid 90’s and in 10 years time, you will see some CD’s going for the silly prices you find on Discogs (my own vinyl collection is now worth over 64k, with most of that valuation for vinyl purchased between 1994 and 2005).
    Anyway, we are all at the mercy of the industry and will always be dictated to accordingly. Personally, being selfish admittedly, I quite like to coexistence of the various formats, because it highlights how different we are, but ultimately it confirms that we all adore music!


  12. Maresky says:

    May I ask, where are new old formats HD, BD-Audio, or at least DVD-A or good old SACD also?

    If CD used to die, OK., but they founded replacement in the past, so where they are now, who is working in record companies?

    Companies are lazy, artist are lazy too, where are those all high density 192kHz, 96/24, 5.1, 9.2 and other super dupper exiting numbers?
    No steady bottom line… One example, last box of depeche Mode, what is propose after BD Video, BD-Audio and dM SACD Remasters from the past?
    One step closer, two steps outer… No R&D policy at any form. Next, in the UHD BD era special super deluxe editions included what, DVD? … are you sure, majors?!

    Of course, vinyl is the best (sarcasm).
    But not for customers.
    For sealers, 20-30 playing and you need new one copy because of phisical degradation.

    XXI century! Where we live now?
    I see now in the industry almost only stranger people and greed.

  13. Eric C says:

    The CD decline is justa manipulation of the Records companies to get right of physical format, logistics and storage and only be paper companies that license to streaming companies (that will kill them afterwards; bu t they do as for mp3, they dont see the wall approaching tpp busy focussed on their bonuses. They really don”t give a fuck about soudn qaulity where CD is superior to streaming and vinyl ( Maths and specs applies there, not urban legend.

  14. Jayson Wilson says:

    If Steven Wilson and Jethro Tull can keep putting out these great Tull box sets with CD’s, DVD’s and BluRay’s – even for Tull records that are not highly though of – and they sell out to the point where third party vendors can sell a new box set copy of “Songs From The Wood” for $300, I am sorry, but the physical format is not going away. People predicted ages ago that CD’s would be gone by now, and yet they remain. There is an audience for COLLECTING music. Moreover, I think you will see a massive artist push back if the record labels try to abandon the physical format. Artists earn much more money from CD’s and LP’s being sold than thru streaming. I would be willing to bet that Mick Jagger earned more money in FY2019 from Rolling Stone CD’s and LP’s being sold that he earned from Spotify. Moreover, artists generally want their music presented in the best possible fidelity, which streaming will just never provide because it eats up too much bandwidth. Lastly, the record industry understands that some of the biggest selling artists in history like Pink Floyd and The Who would’ve died if they were forced to be singles acts. There are some artists like Tool who simply cannot sell hit singles. They must sell an ALBUM. Their music and artistry is meant to be listened to through an entire album with artwork and such. I think you will see less record stores (they are already fading, but mainly because amazon.com can beat any of their prices), and maybe less CD’s will be less manufactured, but I would be completely STUNNED if we do not have a PHYSICAL FORMAT for music in 10 years. There is still an audience for it, and there is money to be made from it. The business model will just be adjusted to understand that when a group like Tool releases a CD, it’s not gonna sell 10 million CD’s.

    • John McCann says:

      They said kindal would do away with books dident they, Waterstones in sauchihall street was heavin at Xmas,all four floors of it, people will always want something nice,look at the imagine boxset,im sure some people would pay£30for the empty box, Just to keep letters and stuff in,

  15. Branny says:

    The figures above suggest that the physical formats are dying on their arse in comparison to streaming services and that goes for movies too. I used to buy a fair few dvds but that has declined greatly with the advent of streaming. I still buy the odd blu ray but these are restricted to favourites that will have repeated viewing.

    With regards to music my vinyl days pretty much ended when cds became readily available and cds remain my medium of choice to this day. I have a decent system so I’m happy with the sound i get so i can’t justify the extra outlay on vinyl, plus cds are more practical from a space point of view at the rate i buy.

    My view is that the industry is going to big up what makes it the most money. Vinyl is much more expensive since it was re-launched so the profit margins must be far greater than what they are making on cds, especially with box sets so they will try to boost the popularity of the format with marketing ploys such as saying it’s outselling cds.

  16. T-Bone says:

    Don’t know if this was posted because there’s too many replies, but here’s another one.


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  18. c_q says:

    I think the record companies got so burned with CDs being so easily copied 100% perfectly (despite the fact that they LOVED them when they first came out as they charged twice what vinyl or cassette cost) that they now like the fact that not only can they charge double again for vinyl than CD, but that vinyl is not as easy to copy as CDs either. So no wonder they might want to push the narrative that CD is dead.

  19. Yani P says:

    To me its really simple – its just about the very personal love of the music that inspires individuals. And whether that happens to take the form of vinyl, CD or streaming it doesnt really matter. I wont even start to get into the debate on what sounds better – there are so many factors involved there is no simple answer. to just say CD sounds better than vinyl or vice versa is just nonsense.
    I have collected records for too many years to remember and am lucky enough to hold a collection of around 380,000 all told. I also have a significant number of CD’s. I guess I have always loved vinyl records and just never lost the bug even when they were out of “fashion”.

    But people deserve a choice – why should you be ignored as a consumer just because you prefer CD over vinyl? I think the biggest issue will be when the pressure comes in to remove any physical options. I give kudos to Paul and all those on here who are passionate about whatever format they choose to listen on (or in many cases multiple formats). without these voices it will be far too easy to just slowly strangle the physical product market until it breathes no more.

    I love tangible “things” – I dont mind Spotify in the car – its actually really convenient and great fun building that long journey playlist. But I want to see what I own, read about the band, how the album was constructed etc, etc. I want to cherish that SDE. Its so much more than listening to the music.

    I can remember as a kid listening to radio luxembourg (or at least trying to get that signal late into the night when I should have been sleeping). I am very fortunate now that I have been able to buy the very top end hi-fi to enjoy my music on – it literally sends me to a different world when I listen to it – in awe of the magnificent sound filling my room – whether CD or vinyl. But I still remember the crackly radio as a child, because it was still the magnificent music that dragged me in.

    I hope everyone on this site will never lose that feeling of magic – and I hope the industry continues to fuel our passion with the products we each demand and look forward to like excited kids at Christmas.

  20. Shane says:

    Honestly I will never understand how someone with a good head on their shoulder would actually long for streaming or promote that as the format to go.
    Do you not realize yet that streaming availability is at the mercy of someone else who is not a) you or b) the artist?
    Do you really want someone to decide what you can listen to?
    Have you not had enough times been in a situation where stuff disappeared from the platform?
    That already should be enough to make an alarm go off and say oh hell no you don’t, let me buy a product that I will own and decide when to play it. It’s been like that ever since records started being sold a century ago and should remain like that.
    Digital or streaming should be an additional market.
    Have people become so lazy that they can’t be bothered with ripping a cd themselves and need it to be already there like that? Have people been spoiled like that?
    I will never joint spotify or netflix. I am forced to download occasionally when stuff is only released that way and I want it badly (i.e. the stunning Burning The Heater EP) but I will go out of my way to not support it and I think any real music lover should.

    Ask yourself if you want to depend on someone else’s decision on what to listen to. The answer can only be No. You would not be on a blog of this nature otherwise.

  21. Ian Burgess says:

    I could write a much longer piece, maybe I will. But for now, one question. If Vinyl is so superior, why do so many copies of vinyl albums come with a cd copy, (minus most of the artwork) or MP3 download code?

    • EW99 says:

      I think because most people would also want access to the music away from their record deck. Speaking for myself I like records but I begrudge having to do the donkey work of recording them on to my computer, splitting up and converting the files, and then tagging them nicely in order to listen to them on the train. A supplementary CD is fine as it’s easier to rip than a record but to be honest I don’t really need the two physical formats; vinyl + mp3 download does the job.

  22. MMoretti (Brasil) says:

    The taste for vinyl vs CD is quite controversial.
    Obviously the CD delivers much more quality than vinyl. This is technically proven. The CD is easy to handle and store, does not scratch easily and when sold in special boxes and digipacks with inserts they are as cool as vinyls. It is enough for the industry to invest in the production of a beautiful product, use durable materials, etc. In the case of vinyl, for you to get great quality in reproduction, you need excellent equipment, which is inevitably very expensive! In the case of the CD, even with simpler equipment, you can hear an album in great quality. The frequency ranges are larger and there is no friction.
    Although many purists defend vinyl with arguments such as sinusoidal continuity, I think that just because there is friction between needle and vinyl, it is already something that generates significant losses of audible frequencies. The amount of samples per second on a CD is very high, which does not justify the defense of vinyl.
    Vinyl as an object in itself, for a collector may even be more attractive, but the advantages stop there.
    As for Streamings, I think it is a format that really leads and has won the world, however, I realize that the albums available are far from the same ones found on CD. A lot is out of print and I see that if Streamings become the most accepted standard, we run the risk of falling into mechanisms like Google, which starts offering only what sells more. This greatly limits the experience of those looking for content.
    Another detail, Streamings in general provide audio in a maximum quality equivalent to the 320 kbps mp3, which is not the best way to listen to music. Flac files far exceed this requirement. I think that this war is more a war of marketing, and generally in these wars, only consumers lose.

    • Mark says:

      I agree that CD and lossless files >= 16/44 resolution should all else equal be sonically superior to vinyl due capability, but if this capability is not utilised or even misused due to inferior mastering vinyl can and does sound better if the vinyl master is better.

      CD has a bette dynamic range for sure but if the CD master has a smaller range than the vinyl master the vinyl will sound better

  23. J says:

    It will be interesting to the USA RIAA report which comes out in March. Their mid-year report reveals a slightly different environment than the UK numbers.
    While it is true that in the first half of 2019 80% of US music revenues were from streaming, CD sales were only slightly higher than LP revenue numbers (247 million vs 224). However, the units shipped for CDs were much larger than LPs (18.6 million vs 8.6). The important economic point is the spread between the mediums on a per unit basis (cd 13.33 vs lp 26.04). And while it is true the calendar year 2019 will see larger LP revenues vs CD the “revival” of plastic is a function of price points & not units sold. Lps will account for about 30% of all units shipped in 2019. So much for the revival of LPS.
    read the RIAA mid-year report here

  24. Antonio L Rodriguez del Pozo says:

    Hi Paul,
    First of all, tks for the post, another hit.
    You have already highlighted the KPIs (just to keep on the loop fd business industry idiots),
    “manipulation”, “much of this is down to money” “Vinyl is a more profitable product.” .
    I have already written ink rivers about this, vinyl vs cd & physical vs streaming. I just want to post a short outline. As you I got some thousands vinyls, and of course a huge cd collection, I will keep buying cds. Will not waste time about cars without a cd reader, same battle between combustion engine cars and PHEVS, electric and so on.
    This is something similar to the past when cds coming from the US where inserted in a kind of packaging that slightly reminded to vinyl covers, then it was removed because of paper consume, thus only jewel cases offered. I my particular situation, I remove jewel cases because of an storage reason, and keep cds into special plastic bags, and because jewel cases immediately show scratches, etc

    In the late years I am a bit concern because a large number of new issues are launched into digipack formats, thus what are we talking about?

    As you quoted: much of this is down to money, not with music.

  25. Susan says:

    This article also referenced in the Stones fan site iorr.org under “Tell me” “Does anyone still dig CD’s”. Paul spreads far & wide!

    CD’s all the way for me! I can’t see that changing as I’m not gonna replace them. I don’t have a record player, tapes are dead. I only listen to new music on YouTube for example the new Morrissey single & Moby & Sigor Ros long ambient music( The latter 2 you can’t even buy hard copies of ). I will never pay for Spotify or any similar thing. For the most part, music belongs in my own hands & on the shelves in my man cave!

  26. Fish says:

    I agree with your view Paul 100% and appreciate someone in your position going out of your way to make this case. We can hope that some people see this and word travels to the powers that be and maybe it can save the format we love very much. My father and I both have extensive cd collections. I was raised on music for the most part, and will only listen to cds. To me they sound the best, despite what other people think. Honestly in my opinion at the same time, music sounds best in the car. Especially in my case where I have one of the best car audio systems I’ve ever heard. it’s the best place to be completely surrounded by the music. With good speakers and a good player, it can make everything sound amazing. You can’t truly get that sound on a surround system at home listening to vinyl. In the car, the music can bounce off of the glass and plastics can absorb a bit which creates sound and in my case again with how good the acoustics are in my actual vehicle, you just can’t find a better sound. I’m not sure what is making these car companies take an 1/8”off a head unit that’s being put in a car anyway because it looks “sleeker” and because some of the population doesn’t listen to cds anymore. Well not all of the population listens to vinyl and streams! Some of us only listen too cds. Why do we have to be punished? I had a 2018 Nissan Sentra SR Midnight Edition from May-November. Got out of my loving 2016 Toyota Corolla S (biggest mistake ever). After a few months I unfortunately recognized that the Sentra’s cd system just simply wasn’t as good, especially compared with the Corolla. Aside from that the ends of my cds always skipped due to the player being terrible. You could tell they didn’t put too much into the player, as it was dying then and taken out completely in the 2019 Sentras. So what did I do? I searched everywhere for the exact same Corolla I had (2016 S-2019 S is the same car mostly before the redesign for 2020). After months of looking and debating I finally found a 2019 good enough for me with low miles and in near mint condition. Took a financial hit but happy to say I got back into the car I loved so much, mainly for the CD player and system it comes with stock. That is part of my dedication to this format for sure. I also did it because even Toyota took out the CD player in 2020, so I had to get something that had it while I could! I’ll never get rid of this car. My hope is one day the music industry and car companies will see that we are all different and like different things, and it doesn’t cost that much to cater to everyone. Hoping cds will stay around, and everyone will stop following trends just to make money and make that trend more popular. It’s ridiculous that they try to push us away from them. It’s a great format and I will always be here supporting it. And we need to get Columbia/Sony to realize not putting out Bruce Springsteen Albums Collection Vol. 2 on cd was completely ridiculous and that they should release it on cd. They STILL have stock of the limited edition vinyl set to this day. That tells you something.

    Anyone who thinks a vinyl or digital file sounds better than a cd, I welcome to contact me and come listen to my CD player in my car. You will be blown away.

    Sorry for rambling, this is a sore subject for me lol. And a lot of this is opinion and it’s just fine that we all like what we like. One side nor the other is wrong, it’s all about what makes you happy. If you stream, listen to vinyl or cd. As long as you like it that’s what matters. We all should be able to enjoy what we like, and not be made to feel like we need to go one way or another.

  27. Holger Meier says:

    Very good article Paul. I’m 47 and I still collect records and cd’s. Spotify I use mainly in the car and in the office or on holidays. Even though I miss the old times a bit, living in 2020 is great. Through Spotify I discover so much music legally that I would have never heard. You don’t need to buy everything if you just like certain songs of an artist.
    The problem is if I hear something on Spotify that I love and there is a nice limited edition I have to buy it. :-)

  28. AlexKx says:

    You can’t buy radios with AM on them anymore either. Something is amiss, up, and going down.

  29. Daniel Wylie says:

    I do like vinyl and still buy records but Cd’s sound better. It’s a shame the way the CD, such a great format for music has been abandoned by so many.

    The best thing about the vinyl revival is that it’s keeping CD prices low. I bought the recent The Police, remastered box set on CD from Amazon for £15. The vinyl was £107. I got the first couple of Michael Kiwanuka albums on CD, brand new, for £4 each.

    Long live the CD.

  30. JJDelmas says:

    Absolutely spot on IMHO.
    Last Saturday I went to a concert of an acquaintance. He had made an album and was selling it there. On vinyl at 15€ and on CD at 5€, same content. That shows pretty much the difference of margin the two formats can have, even at a cottage industry level.
    Vinyl is like Nespresso: they manage to convince the public how hip is to pay double the price for the same product.

    • Mad Earwig says:

      I don’t understand your Nespresso point, how are you paying twice? It’s 32 pence a capsule.

    • John McCann says:

      But was your acquaintance actually making a profit on the vinyl,if he only had a couple of Hundred pressed up then,,£13 would be just about covering his costs I would think, maybe made a few euros on cds,wots his band called?

  31. Stephen Graham says:

    One thing to take into consideration is the geographic markets. Japan is an outlier in the sense that CDs still remain the dominant format, even compared to streaming.
    I think the CD still has lots of life left in it and the industry should be doing much more to support it.

  32. Gareth Jones says:

    I’ve already made 3 comments on this thread, so I’ll shut up after this! But I thought SDE readers may enjoy this song/video by Jeffrey Lewis. It’s all about his love of vinyl collecting, but now they’re too expensive, so he’s returned to another format!….

  33. Frank B says:

    I LOVE CDs! I am an avid US collector. I have well over 11,000 CDs. All tracked in a database. My basement is a music library from the last 30 years+. It frustrates me to no end that there have been albums not released on cd at all!! I am willing to spend the money on expanded issues and box sets. I ask artists to release their albums on cd and get no response or that it might come out at a later time. I think it is outrageous and foolish of the music industry. To phase this format out. I am totally baffled when I see that cassettes are available but not CDs?!! Really?!! I hope they come to their senses. If they need to charge more, go ahead, but I would gladly pay it and would appreciate the consideration to someone who absolutely adores music on this format! Stop the insanity!!

  34. Mark says:

    My first priority is getting the best quality sound and whilst I would prefer to own my music physically I will sacrifice physical ownership for better sound. I maintain an audiophile system for vinyl and FLAC (ripping any physical CD/Blu Ray/DVD-A to FLAC in order to play back at 24/96 through my external DAC)

    I suppose the ideal for me is a well mastered physical 24/96 format (Blu Ray or DVD-A) but these as rare.

    However mastering is the key here and often (but not always) the vinyl mastering makes vinyl sonically superior to any of the digital lossless formats available and this is why I buy vinyl over any digital format.

    However without question a well mastered 24/96 FLAC (or even 16/44) will outperform the same master pressed to vinyl (compare the Eurythmics half-speed mastered vinyl to the associated vinyl downloads). Both are good but the download has the edge.

    The “warmth” many refer to with vinyl is actually colouration (distortion). Using my Rega RP10 (very neutral) I don’t think vinyl is tonally much different from the digital lossless version of the same master.

    Often (but not always)

    • Steve w says:

      Why use FLAC and not WAV?

      • Mark says:

        From an audio quality perspective there is no difference between WAV and FLAC (both are truly lossless) but metadata is easier to capture with FLAC.

        I’d put the question back to you, why WAV?

        • SimonP says:

          I’ll put this question to you: why hi-res?

          Your human ears can’t hear it, no matter what your brain tells you.

          • Mark says:


            This is another debate (rabbit hole) entirely and it’s more about the sampling frequency than the bit depth.

            I agree that 22 kHz (44.1 kHz sample rate) is at or even slightly above the capacity of the human ear, so you are correct that you can’t hear the higher frequencies using higher sample rates. However this is only looking at the brick-wall cut off from one side of the wall, what no one can prove scientifically is whether brick-walling (cutting out) the frequencies >22 kHz (the other side of the wall) impacts the loudspeakers reproduction of the frequencies inside the brick-wall cut off that you can hear, especially those close to the brick-wall. My view is that a 22 kHz cut off is simply just too close to the capacity of the human ear and it’s worthwhile having the cut off higher, which means 88.2 or 96 kHz. I can hear a difference between a 24/96 rip and a 16/44 rip of the same 24/96 Blu Ray but I can’t differentiate between 24/192 and 24/96.

            My points (relevant to Paul’s article) were that I will sacrifice physical for better quality and that a well mastered >= 16/44.1 digital format will out perform the same master pressed to vinyl. Unfortunately well mastered vinyl is far more common than well mastered digital and sounds better.

          • Mark says:


            Unfortunately it’s not as simple as that and the science is inconclusive here.

            Brick-wall cut-offs don’t exit in the original sound, they are introduced by digital recording and more importantly the human ear does not exhibit a brick-wall frequency cut off.

            A 44.1 kHz sample rate results in the brick-wall cut off operating far too close to the capacity of the human ear. A higher cut off of 48 kHz (96 kHz sample rate ensures the cut off operates well outside the range of the capacity of the human ear.

            Why have the cut off so close when you can push it further away?

        • Steve W says:

          The reason I mention WAV is that it does not involve any compression routine or encoding, it is a raw digital copy – an absolute like for like.
          Given the low costs of hard disk storage, there is more opportunity to store larger uncompressed files.

          While WAV does not allow for metadata, file naming gives ample room for track, artist, album, year data etc.

          • blink says:

            “what no one can prove scientifically is whether brick-walling (cutting out) the frequencies >22 kHz (the other side of the wall) impacts the loudspeakers reproduction of the frequencies inside the brick-wall cut off that you can hear, especially those close to the brick-wall”

            long story short, having the frequencies outside the wall available can impact the sound inside the wall due to the limitations of the equipment – but that is a bug, not a feature, i.e. what you get is a distortion, not a more accurate representation of the original sound

          • blink says:

            FLAC is a lossless compression, so when you play it back it 1:1 is the WAV file. The only difference is that it takes up less HD space and needs to be unpacked during playback – which for all intents and purposes boils down to needs less HD space. So to me there is no reason to ever store something as WAV (unless you are still editing that sound file).

          • blink says:

            @Mark, what music that you listen to actually contains sounds in the 20kHz range? Chances are none does.

            As to the cut off being close to the hearing range, that is arguably true for the theoretical hearing range (20kHz upper limit vs 22kHz for the medium is still a decent buffer), but pretty much no adult still has that range, by then the upper limit is 16kHz or below, which gives you a wide enough gap.

            As to why not expand the range ? File size. I can get behind 16/48 if you want to play it safe but 24/96 is overkill and I very much doubt that you can reliably hear the difference between 16/44 and 24/96 in a blind test.

            You will probably get it right about 50% of the time (ie pure chance) when done in a proper setup (same system, same source just downconverted, same volume, etc.), unless you have a bat in your family tree at most 4 generations ago ;)

            In all studies I have seen on this, that is invariably the outcome. Hi-res is a marketing gimmick with no actual value, but as long as record companies can charge you more for it, they will offer it.

          • Mark says:


            File size is not a valid constraint here when comparing 24/96 FLAC to 16/44 FLAC. I therefore prefer digital files where the brick-wall cut off operates very comfortably above the absolute possible threshold of hearing. 48 kHz may just be to enough here but to be sure I prefer a little higher which practically means 88.2/96 kHz. At this point we both agree there is no point going any higher. CD was originally meant to be 16/48 but oddly 44.1 was famously chosen as a “compromise” to increase run time to accommodate a CEOs favourite classical piece on one disc……

            I suppose the key question is why do so many studios record at 24/96? I know they set levels for 16 bits (more than enough dynamite range) but use 24 bits to avoid any clipping caused by unexpected peaks, but why do so many record with a 96 kHz sample rate, which started well before 24/96 was offered to consumers?

            For me price is important but a 24/96 file should cost the same as a nasty 128k AAC file but that’s another matter.

            Let’s leave it there we both agree there is no punt going beyond a certain sample rate, the question is how close do you want to have your brick-wall cut off.

      • Mad Earwig says:

        As Mark replies, it’s very similar Sounding but WAV is a bigger file. If you get WAV files they often don’t have data like track name, artist etc.
        With Flac, it’s CD sound quality in a lossless file. I can then fix the meta data to be more consistent in my library.
        I am always surprised at the inconsistency in meta data with so many variances in spelling, capitalisation etc.

        • blink says:

          @Mark “File size is not a valid constraint here when comparing 24/96 FLAC to 16/44 FLAC. ” depends on how many files you have I guess. 24/96 is roughly twice the size of 16/44 from what I have seen, and my ripped CDs already take up 1 TB in FLAC…

          “I suppose the key question is why do so many studios record at 24/96?” because they do a lot of editing before the end result becomes a CD. For that it is good to have more buffer so you do not have to be as precise in the editing (in terms of the result staying completely inside the wall). Once you have the end result in 24/96 you only have to be precise the one time you bring it down to 16/44 to make sure everything is in that range rather than ‘shifted’ up/down. Once you set the floor/ceiling correctly, 16/44 is fine.

  35. Stevie B says:

    FOPP Byres Road Glasgow has a closing down sale today. The last record shop in the West End (I remember when Partick/Hillhead had 8 not including the two Woolworths that had record counters). Probably means nothing to anyone in London, who bemoans having to travel to Shepherds Bush or Covent Garden but… as at one time apart from Japan, Glasgow was the biggest buying market per head of population than anywhere else in the world it’s a sad day. Seems hipsters are buying their CD/Vinyl online now. Although I’ve said physical formats are doomed, regardless of formats, rather than slag off whether a piece of music comes in the format you want or doesn’t, or if you think record companies are promoting or killing off a format. If you want somewhere other than ONLINE and want a physical EXPERIENCE as well as physical PRODUCT maybe visit your local record shop today.

    • John McCann says:

      Hi Stevie,you still have mixed up record ds,otago lane and the one on park road, the old lost chord,thats a record shop now, where there any bargain in fopp, I would have thought they would just have moved stock to union street,oh also the lane next to to d.maggios has a used record shop,i was 12 in 1980 me and my mates doged school and spent all day in record shops,blooggs,listen 23rd precinct and all the big ones, Glasgow then was brilliant

    • Seikotsi says:

      do you still have ‘missing’ records? or have they closed down too? and the one on great western road – forgot the name…

  36. RJS says:

    If I was just starting to listen to music, I’d definitely opt for streaming. £120 per year multiplied by 35 means I’d have spent approx £4,200 for an all you can listen to experience. I must have spent over £30,000 on physical product in that time. It’s all ripped to FLAC and streamed and I now just regard most of the residual CDs and cases as clutter. The fact that I wouldn’t own anything and that I’d have to keep paying a monthly fee to access music wouldn’t be a concern.

    • Paul E. says:

      @RJS – That’s certainly a fair point and difficult to argue from a cost perspective. However, I’d politely disagree in the sense that you probably enjoyed the 35 year hunt to build your collection- if you hadn’t, you would have pursued another hobby entirely. I’d even go as far to assume that you took great time and care to rip your lossless music to hard drive [you must care and used FLAC]…possibly adding the period appropriate b-sides, remixes, and rarities to indivdual “albums” to enhance your PERSONAL streaming enjoyment.

      Spotify allows anyone to create a playlist but what’s the lineage of the track you’re adding to the playlist- original, remaster, remix, etc.? If it’s Spotify, it’s capped at 320 kbps already and a good source is paramount. Also is the song even available/will it be available a month or year from now? All concerns you don’t have RJS with the music on YOUR server and most likely spread across several convenient devices (SONOS, iPhone, Hi Res Player, etc.).

      Oh well, that’s my rebuttal of sorts. Perhaps justifying the $65,000 this 50 year old has spent on collecting since the age of 12 (and not regretting one day of it).

    • Steve W says:

      But surely that limits your music choices as not all releases are on all streaming databases?
      What if your Internet is down or subject to bandwidth throttling?
      You are ok then with no ownership of sleeve art, band credits, recording data etc.?

  37. Bill Z says:

    PAUL! There’s a link to this story from the well known and well respected Bob Dylan site Expecting Rain. Big time!!

  38. Marquand See says:

    Ah, petroleum products. Whether actually wanted or not, the illusion of desire and need will continue to be pushed through so many channels.

    • John McCann says:

      But did you not get a buyers buzz in all of thoes 35 years, excited as you went into town and got the new Madness’ album or whatever you where onto,or maybe opening a xmax present which contained music, surely this must have been worth the£15.800 shortfall,and you do still have over 30 grands worth of stuff you regard as clutter, which I will nip round with my van and clear for you on Sunday,,,,,, just cover my diesel costs,,,

  39. David Wishart says:

    A related opinion appeared in the New York Times this weekend, it’s satire, but relevant to this discussion. https://nyti.ms/2G46NnO

    We Should Have Bought the DVDs
    It’s 2022. I don’t know if I’ll ever own a house, but I can own my favorite television shows in their entirety.”

  40. JC says:

    An additional point to be made…
    When Paul or any other expert out there takes the stance that CD’s outsell Vinyl by a huge amount, they are ONLY talking about NEW product. The used market, which is the lifeline of most record stores leans quite heavily on vinyl sales. In fact, it’s so skewed towards vinyl, that most stores won’t even buy used CD’s unless they are premium titles, and if they do…they won’t pay but pennies on the dollar, if even that. Most likely they will only offer store credit.

    • Jurg says:

      Not true! I sell my CD’s for two euro’s a piece. The second hand store takes everything but no compilations by various artists. Again, treat your product with respect and deliver it unscratched. The smallest scratch is a no sale.

  41. John Bommarito says:

    My 2 cents:
    I always prefer CD. I would only buy vinyl if it’s absolutely the only way to get the “album” and even then I am likely to skip buying it if it is only digital or available on vinyl.

    This doesn’t apply to most of the major artists covered on this mighty fine web page, but smaller independent artists are also making great music, but absolutely struggling to make a living as musicians because the amount paid out by streaming services. What’s going to kill the music industry and creative people is if we don’t value the art they make and pay them fairly for making it. There will be no incentive to choose that profession as their job. Imagine a world with no new music. I don’t want to live in that world.

    • Tony Pill says:

      I have a store in New Zealand and agree with all comments made. i do sell second hand and new vinyl but also sell a lot of CD’s. Yes I only pay a dollar or two for second hand CD’s but turn them over at a reasonable profit as I do with second hand vinyl. Yes the new vinyl is expensive and I agree that the record companies are riding the wave but if they continue at such high prices they will shoot themselves in the foot.
      I enjoy and have a passion for music and recognise the trends which as a store owner I make the most of but I can see trends changing which means I have to be on my guard continually . I am now 74 so hope that the trends do not make rapid changes until in about 5 years time I can sell my business for the second time around.
      None of these changes though will drive me away from my love of music in general. a fascinating world we live in.

  42. JC says:

    Poorly written article about Vinyl overtaking CD sales.
    What they mean is DOLLAR-WISE…not number of units. They make much more from vinyl sales than they do on CD sales. Would you rather sell 20 million pennies, or 5 million nickels?

    Read this version of the article.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Vinyl may be more profitable than CDs but a CD is still a VERY profitable product, because it’s so cheap to produce. Which is the core of the SDE post. Why not continue to produce TWO profitable products instead of almost deliberately discouraging or trying to kill of one of them?

      Also it’s fine for majors, but if you are a small label producing a run of 1000 or 2000 vinyl records – that is HIGH RISK if you aren’t certain you can sell out. Even though the profit per unit is good, the whole exercise can easily become massively unprofitable (or a total disaster) if you are left with a few hundred units unsold. The risks are much smaller for CDs.

      So there’s another reason why CDs are good and should be supported. Smaller, niche labels can take risks with issuing music on CD in a way that they might not be able to afford to do with vinyl.

      • Gareth Jones says:

        I agree with this point. I’ve seen small unsigned bands play gigs, and they only sell their music on CD or cassette. They very rarely have a vinyl product, unless they do a crowd funding page for fans to invest in the production of a vinyl release. And of course if not enough fans pay up, that won’t happen.

        I see a LOT of unsigned bands on Bandcamp who actually only do a cassette as a physical release, because they’re so cheap to produce in small quantities. Not a format of my personal choice, and I would much prefer them to do a low-budget hand-written CD-R if they can’t afford a proper pressing, but regardless, it proves how expensive producing vinyl can be for a new small band, not just expensive for the punter to buy!

      • JC says:

        While it’s probably not that expensive to produce the actual CD’s themselves, it’s probably not cheap to do the art design and production for separate boxes and booklets for the CD format. I can see why labels would be wary, when streaming is kicking the crap out of physical formats in general. Vinyl is only viable currently, because it’s consistently showing very strong year over year growth.

  43. Steve says:

    I agree with you, Paul. Thank you for posting this essential topic. I have not abandoned the compact disc format since it was introduced. I still buy new CD’s. I did have to largely abandon the vinyl LP because the record industry (major, indie labels, record stores) as a whole had abandoned records back when CD’s came in big time. I loved records. So, I was left with little to no choice to adapt over to CD’s. Now, they want to abandon CD’s and have gone back to LP’s which are priced way too high and, prohibit me from buying them. In some cases, these LP’s are mastered from digital sources instead of direct from analog when they were originally analog. Think about that. The prices for new LP’s and 7″ singles have really not come down in price as CD’s eventually did when their popularity and sales increased. The fact that the number of new record pressing plants have not increased in a large way that makes a difference is very suspect. The level of disrespect that the record industry has had for the CD format for the past 10+ years is despicable especially when one sees the care & consideration that they now give to new LP’s and vinyl box sets. Greed is greed when it comes to the record industry (major & indie) and with certain record stores which has gotten worse. Even Record Store Day has sadly devolved into a money grab for labels and stores in gouging music fans with high prices. If we all can push back and say that there’s room for all of these formats: CD’s, LP’s, and cassettes for us music fans who want something tangible it might have an effect.

  44. T-Bone says:

    This reminds me of in the 90’s when people were getting rid of their vinyl collections for CD’s. I was buying in some cases perfect LP’s for 50 cents to a dollar. Now it’s the same with CD’s.

  45. Rett Russell says:

    Excellent article.
    The physical music product is driven ONLY by profit (with few exceptions).
    As a former early 90’s music store owner (cds/vinyl) in Tampa, Florida your words resonated with me. My partners and I had the funding to go direct to the music companies (five at the time, WEA, UNI, SONY, etc.) so we paid the same price for product as Tower, HMV, Peaches, Circuit City, Best Buy. The music companies allowed big-box electronics stores to sell below-cost, which put all us mom-and-pop outfits out of business……all for the instant profit.
    Additionally, as more cd manufacturing factories came online the cost to produce cds was slashed dramatically….but the music companies maintained high prices for back catalog albums….inevitably enabling Napster to be created.
    Nothing has changed in the accounting department since Alexander Graham Bell….so we need articles like Paul’s to remind us that we music lovers must keep the torch lit……no one else will!

  46. Keith says:

    Lets face it there are better formats than Vinyl and CD.

    Its a source of immense frustration when you want a blu ray for instance to have to dive in to a big box with Vinyl and possibly CD’s just to get what you want.

    While I appreciate a Box set often its only the main album which comes on Vinyl while the bonus tracks all appear on CD. Thus the Vinyl Nut misses out on hearing the extras on his preferred format and the CD nut has to buy a redundant piece of plastic.

    Its is so much better for all to release the formats separately. The mega fans will buy all formats anyway and the casual fans are more likely to buy a lower priced set.

    For instance only a passing fan of Henry cow but blimey £80 buys 18 CDs in a box with a DVD imagine if you had to buy vinyl as well.

    My preferred formats in Order are Blu Ray (preferably Surround) then CD then Download.
    I do however understand that some people want Vinyl and that should be available.

    I am also not a fan of record store day which seems to be entirely about making limited edition scalpers exclusives.

    I also bought the Police box on CD too good a price not too, I wonder how many more CD boxes will be sold that the Vinyl Equivalent which I had no interest in.
    One last though remember the days when CD was in its infancy Albums came out with extra tracks to entice the buyers in nowadays it seems vinyl is doing the same.

  47. Will H says:

    Very interesting article Paul and lots of strong points.

    From the point of view of an independent reissue label, CDs can often be more profitable. Although the retail price is a lot less for CD, the manufacturing cost is considerably cheaper. For us, CDs weren’t initially part of the plan but we realised there was still a market for them and then decided to try to create something CD sized that had the feel of the LPs. Some hardcore fans obviously buy both formats but that wasn’t the reasoning.

    Long term I’m sure there are some labels with big catalogues who would be happy with no physical formats at all. Everything available online means less staff, zero manufacturing costs, very low risk and so on. We will see how things play out over the next few years. It’s going to be interesting.

    • Gareth Jones says:

      Labels like Jasmine and Ace Records put out amazing CD compilations with fairly thick booklets full of informative sleeve notes. Another thing streaming will never replace.

  48. Michael says:

    After further reading of the many postings in this interesting blog about CDs vs. LPs, I’ve noticed quite a few SDE subscribers expressed preference for the CD format, but enjoy the larger more attractive packaging of LPs, which is my sentiment. Some years ago I was able to find a few CDs that were housed in 12″ x 12″ LP sleeve replicas:
    David Bowie “Heathen” in gate-fold jacket,
    The Who “Live at Leeds” in gate-fold jacket including posters,
    Free “Fire and Water” from Japan, and
    The Who “Who’s Next” from Japan.

    All four CD albums replicated the full size vinyl LP sleeves including all LP inserts. This to me was the best of both worlds — CD convenience with large attractive graphics. Even though these CDs in 12″ x 12″ album jackets were a little more money than a standard jewel case CD, they were in fact more affordable (and felt more satisfying) than buying a CD and a vinyl LP of the same album separately. I hope the music industry revisits this idea.

  49. Craig says:

    Great article Paul!

    You bring up the point I always make, but have not seen in actual media articles before, and that is the issue of CD players in cars.

    Behind streaming, which will of course one day win this “format war”, the lack of CD players in the car is the main reason for declining sales for sure. If I still had one, I would still be playing CD’s daily, not to mention buying more of them. 2019 I bought the least amount of CDs since 1984, and all of them were some kind of reissue (Prince, etc.).

    The next reason, and not really ever mentioned, is the lack of optical drives on computers and laptops. While many desktops still have them, it seems like (at least in the US) that most desktops are used in the work environment, where CD playing is not really practical. Most people are using laptops or tablets at home and there is no way to play CD’s or transfer music to an iTunes-like platform without getting a costly separate drive and hope it’s drivers are compatible with your laptop.

    I could play CD’s through my home system via DVD/BluRay player, but honestly, I don’t have the time to devote to pure music listening at home anymore as I get older. That is why the car CD player was so important.

    Honestly, I just hope the Seeds of Love deluxe box comes out before CD’s are stopped altogether. LOL

  50. Kenneth Anselmi says:

    Thanks for your candid comments Paul. Once CDs were properly mastered the sound has always been superior to my ears over vinyl. I love vinyl, but it deteriorated from the first time you start to play it. It is also ridiculously priced now. I prefer vinyl for artwork but I prefer CDs for a consistent superior sound.

    • Woodsey Niles says:

      Agreed. I remember when CDs were a new medium and there were all kinds of horror stories about how quickly they physically deteriorate after a few months or years – cracking, warping, splitting layers, label ink bleed through, developing an opaque surface that will not track… To this day I have never had a single CD fail on me for any of these reasons. Scratching and skipping yes – but this was usually due to my own negligence. Perhaps it was the vinyl industry spreading these tales?

      • SimonP says:

        I have at least half a dozen CDs that have failed. I have an Orb 2 part CD single and both discs are knackered! I’ve one or two that have gone brown and won’t play but the others look like the silver part has shattered.

  51. Alan says:

    I gave up on records for the most part apart from 7″ and 12″ from the mid 80s, going over to cassettes for portability, then in the early 90s went to CD and started replacing all the vinyl and cassettes. After the mid 90s the only vinyl I bought was some second hand Bowie from Ebay. In 2010 I halved my record collection and got rid of some CDs for a move to Canada. From 2010 to 2014 I couldn’t really afford much music and then I found Thrift stores around the same time we had more money to play with and between buying loads of cheap vinyl and CDs for usually about $2-$5, we were also able to start buying new stuff too. I would say I buy 50% new vinyl vs CD. Depends on the artist, for example I recently bought complete album discogs of Led Zep and Pink Floyd on Vinyl, even though I have them on CD, with Bowie I usually get both formats, with other artists mainly CD.

    I like CDs and would never give them up and now feel the same for vinyl again. It’s all good fun, and all music. Not a fan of streaming, with too much choice I never know what to play.

  52. fredpostman says:

    Great read Paul.

  53. Cris says:

    I apologize if someone will have highlighted my same comments in some previous post, but I have not yet finished reading the 200+ that have quite rightly followed your interesting article, Paul.
    In bulletpoints:

    – Notwithstanding pompous articles I do not think anyone sane of mind may have thought that vinyl has gone ahead in terms of sales vs CDs (I will not intentionally speak of streaming since I do not care for it and I believe it is inconceivable and hateful);

    – I would not be worried by the lowering of vinyl sales percentages, even though a plateau must unfortunately be reached someday (let’ s hope later than sooner), since it is the consequence of a simple mathematical equation: if one year you are selling 5 LPs (i. e.: a ridiculous quantity) as was the condition of vinyl years ago, and the following you start selling 10, you have increased by 100%, but you are still in the “ridiculously low” quantities range. And so on. So the moment you start selling good quantities, increase percentages inevitably get lower;

    – I am sorry, I do not like and have never liked CDs. Whatever the elegance of the box set package and even though I like miniatures in general, it is an object which is cold, unattractive and from the very start has been shamefully overpriced.
    Thisnotwithstanding, I have always thought it established that a CD version of a release would always exist, except for some reissues or special editions dedicated to the vinyl buying public, maybe.

    – This was already debated on this site before: the same injustice was done to vinyl buyers when CDs came to the fore in the Nineties: indeed, to the point that in Italy vinyl records were NO LONGER PRESSED, and quantities in the rest of the world were drastically reduced. So don’ t complain with me about that guys… I know very well what being pushed out of fashion by the industry means. And it was much worse than not having Yazoo’ s Four Pieces available. If I didn’ t bend, I could not have listened t my favourite music anymore. Thanks to Food Records, Mute, Oasis and other independents, and probably also to the vinyl lovers constituting part of the SDE readers gang, vinyl did not disappear and I have kept on filling my house with it even in the dark period, and now more than ever.
    In any case, if CDs still go that’ s fine with me. What I am interested in is that I get MY format as well, which is vinyl, after having been mistreated by the business as explained above.
    In this respect I could say that cassettes are an aseptic, antediluvian and most of all deciduous product, and pushing them is ridiculous. Same would go for videocassettes for instance: similarly to the CD of course I do not like DVDs and cassettes gave me that “physical consistency” that gave me the impression of having bought “something concrete”, but I realise that reintroducing them would be absurd. The real value there is not in the support but again in what comes with it: a good box, and a good, possibly somehow “fat” booklet, however cheap that will always look as compared to the inner sleeve or the booklet attached to a vinyl LP (not CD).
    However, with all respect towards cassette lovers, that’ s ok with me if the industry releases those as well. I think that after some usage the aficionados will realise that they do not last, but it could also be a case of just keeping them there on the shelf, so fine with me. I still want my vinyl available, that’ s all.

    – Paul’ s point regarding CD players in cars is VERY interesting. I never though about it in those terms consciously, I just keep insulting the industry that forces me to use USB drives instead. But it is a very true argument.
    In this case I think I have personally demonstrated flexibility: I begrudgingly accepted the cancellation of cassette players in cars, I shifted to CD supports once one of the few geniuses in the industry had the idea of including download codes in vinyls (just a bait for CD buyers…) to transfer my music and listen to it while driving without complaining too much. But now… A USB is NONSENSE (I do not possess a smartphone). End result? I do not listen to music in my car anymore.

    – RSD: you cannot avoid linking vinyl to an initiative (initially at least) wanting to same independent shops. I realize I have not gotten into the idea of an independent selling CDs, that’ s my problem: my idea of shop is one full of crates of vinyls. However it is all based on a subliminal “vintage spirit”, and I do not think CDs will ever be (or look like) a vintage object. And it doesn’ t look credible, at least to me, as a “limited edition” object. You can’ t “play” with the thing. You can’ t have a picture CD. A coloured CD. A jigsaw cover CD. Or whatever. Vinyl is perfect for that kind of stuff;

    – Vinyl may well be the new lifebuoy the industry has rediscovered to pull their heads out of water after pushing on CDs and then streaming. But if we manage to teach the very young generations who have all the rights to ask “what’ s that round black thing?” or say “Hey put on one of those big black CDs” what vinyls actually are we may have hope that the format will never die.


  54. stuart says:

    Great article Paul,
    Is it possible that they mixed the numbers up? What I mean is amount sold vs money made..?
    If the Vinyl costs more , (some albums I’ve seen for €30 compared to a €10 for a cd) you could possibly see them making more money from the vinyl, even though they sell more cd’s….just a thought.

  55. BigBear63 says:

    As with any format, platform is critical. It’s obvious why the likes of Spotify, Amazon, Apple & other streaming services are doing so well. In the case of Spotify, it is available for free, with hardly any discernible downside, compared to the Premium service, the catalogue of available music is staggering, and the sound quality is great. However, what makes the greatest difference, compared to other formats, is the fact that our mobile phones are now smartphones, and billions of us own one. We can listen to whatever we want, whenever we want without filling up memory space on any of our digital devices. With the latest developments in bluetooth headphones & earphones, which although not quite up to the standard of the best wired headphones, more people are likely to join in the streaming boom. At some point in the near future, a set of BT earphones will be included with a new smartphone and a subscription to Spotify, etc, included in the deal. If it’s not already happened, which it probably has.

    The “tangible” formats of bluray, cd, vinyl & tape will always be around. Even minidiscs are still out there, being held on to by niche enthusiasts. I think the latest cassette tape “blip” is a fun idea but will go nowhere, simply because tape players are even rarer than turntables and in terms of “home based” sound quality, cassette tapes always struggled, when compared to vinyl. They don’t hold a candle to CD’s or blurays, which I suspect they will endure for a long time yet. Why? Bluray players are cheap and can play through a TV’s sound bar, which is becoming many homeowners HiFi system. Of course, people are streaming video media too but just like vinyl & cd’s there is a market for owning a hardcopy of your favourite movies, especially if it includes director’s cuts, interviews & other extra’s. Sure, bluray won’t compete with Netflix or Spotify but having a bluray player in the home means people already own a platform that can play CD’s.

    So it seems to me the sales figures of each format reflect precisely the way people consume their music; streaming, cd/bluray, digital downloads, vinyl, and tape. The interesting one in that group is the digital downloads. Many oldies out there don’t understand the difference between downloads and streaming until you explain the first requires space on your phone’s memory and streaming doesn’t. By way of an example, a few years ago, a friend of mine, proudly told me he’d bought his 20-something daughter a download deal for xmas & I asked him why he didn’t just get her a years Spotify subscription. He didn’t have a clue what I was talking about until I explained what it was and it’s advantages. The following year he bought her Spotify. Out of a family of 5, the 70 year old grandad is the only one who buys physical media, & then only the occasional CD, which he picks up at the myriad live gigs he goes to.

    One interesting point is the cost of each format. Streaming is obviously dirt cheap & given every streamed track can be downloaded from Spotify there is no need to pay for individual downloads from say, Amazon. Downloads are viewed essentially as freebies & are little used; less so, as time progresses. CD’s deliver high quality sound and are appreciably cheaper than vinyl. In many cases they are typically around 50% of the vinyl price, which consumers recognise as good value plus lets not dismiss the ability to store cd’s more readily than vinyl. Plus, cd’s can be ripped easily giving the consumer their free download. However, as vinyl costs 50-100% more than cd’s the music industry have every incentive to continue promoting them. My local record store (Banquet Records), is always busy, and not just with old crumblies like me. I love the annual RSD promotions and see no reason why independent record stores won’t continue to thrive. A bit like toy shops, there’ll always be one or two around in every major town, even though we can buy online, because people enjoy the experience of visiting and browsing as much as we enjoy buying.

    In terms of my consumption, I have a decent vinyl collection (500+, bought mainly in the last 12yrs & only added to for collectible, & special editions, etc.), probably half as many cd’s (bought mainly in the 90’s & early 00’s and rarely purchased today), 1000’s of downloads (accrued over the last 10 yrs, as an easily accessible backup resource but swiftly becoming redundant), and I use Spotify Free, virtually all the time, via my PC and smartphone. I see no reason why my habits will change.

  56. Mike says:

    Really good fact busting article. I’m constantly amazed at the price of vinyl compared to CD, who pays these prices?….well apparently not many. I’m afraid it’s the familiar story of record companies milking the products. I switched to CD in the mid 80’s and would never dream of going back.

    As someone who lived through the golden age of quality hi-fi from the 70’s to mid 80’s when you could experience vinyl at it’s very best, what really pains me now is to see a more expensive product played on inferior equipment.

    • Woodsey Niles says:


      Thanks for confirming what I have long suspected. Count me as another one who switched to CDs after collecting about 3,000 lps in the 60s-80s. My first CD was Donald Fagen “The Nightfly”. When I heard that incredible sound it was impossible to look back. The game had changed. The fact that new lps are absurdly expensive is only one aspect of it. I assume the issue of inevitable pops, cracks and skipping hasn’t been completely eliminated even if the lps are treated like Faberge’ eggs. The only thing I miss is the album cover as a form of art.

      I have absolutely no issue with those who prefer vinyl. I still treasure my vinyl collection. I just made a personal choice decades ago.

    • Chris Squires says:

      ”As someone who lived through the golden age of quality hi-fi from the 70’s to mid 80’s when you could experience vinyl at it’s very best, what really pains me now is to see a more expensive product played on inferior equipment.“

      I can’t hold with that. yes there are some crap decks around, the type one might buy from HMV as a first toe in the water, but that was always the case back in the day too. If I think about the awful Ferguson deck I was listening to when I first discovered Ommadawn late to the party in 1978 plus the fact that I didn’t know about record cleaning or even record care for that matter. I would suggest, taking the romance out of it, that today’s crap decks are pretty much on a par with yesteryear’s crap decks and the best decks today are better than the best decks of yesteryear. Most vinyl users here, at some point, will mention they are using a Rega 3, 8 or 10 or similar (I use an RP10 with apheta2 MC cartridge). Plus take into account the awful oil crisis Wood chip vinyl in the 1970s or the 107gram “flexidisc” vinyl from the 1980s and I would be willing to put at least a quid on the average vinyl experience today being way better than the average vinyl experience for most of us 40 years ago. In my head I didn’t hear the snap, crackle and pop of a second hand “Quiet Life” But it was probably there and the kind of thing that would ruin a 53 year old’s enjoyment today but never bothered the 15 year old at the time. Your mileage may differ of course. The thing that lets the modern experience down isn’t the equipment, in general it’s the art of pressing but that’s a different story.

      • John McCann says:

        Ah Chris i picked up the original quiet life,hansa,gatefold,brand new old stock,never been played,from a guitar shop in East Kilbride about 3years ago,a music rep from the 70s had a load of records in his attic, Which he had stashed 40 years ago,he did a deal with owner of guitar shop,loads of new old stock vinyl for a guitar, owner put them on display in shop, its still had the big red sticker on it,£3.99,i took it up to counter and cheekily asked,is it still£3.99 then and laughed,,his reply was yes thats fine, couldn’t believe it’,I have it in a display cabinet at home
        Its always been my favourite Japan album,itwas issued again about 81on the fame label,not gatefold sleeve but was only about£3,

  57. Daryl says:

    Thank you Paul for giving us CD fans a ray of hope!
    Like those people you mentioned in the article, I had also assumed that CD was being thrashed by vinyl.
    I do buy vinyl occasionally, but my general rule is that I would never buy anything on vinyl instead of, or that I don’t already have on CD. For example, I collect Stones stuff heavily, so once I had all the Stones albums on CD, I started collecting them on vinyl, but if I were to buy a new album today, it would be on CD without any question. I am fully aware of the ‘warmness’ and ‘richness’ of the sound of vinyl, and I definitely think there is something in that, but to me, CDs are still way better. The sound is clearer and they are far harder to damage – and they’re cheaper! Therefore there is no contest for me. Long live the CD (and all other formats)!

  58. Daniel says:

    Stunning article Paul. It gives voice to my thoughts too.
    I think music industry today is only moving for what´s makes money faster without caring about quality. I assume CD is not amongst those formats despite the numbers you offer on your article. I mean, people who´s buying CDs will be buying CDs until the end of the world, so they count with that. But the vinyl and cassette market is growing and they push that, mainly because now it´s trendy. Also, I don´t know very much about music industry but maybe people in charge for it is younger and don´t have the same (romanthic?) point of view as the old executives. Artists are less involved on their releases, as seems they are doing money on the live shows as the streaming sales are not giving them the same profit as the old physical sales… so maybe it´s a mix of things…

  59. Dave W says:

    Brilliant article Paul. I’ve just got home from Japan where I was able to browse a fantastic selection of CDs from global artists – the majority with additional tracks and outstanding packaging (and reproduction of posters issued with original releases [Wingspan – Paul McCartney and Wings], extra tracks [Greatest Hits So Far – Pink] & Japan only releases [Cyndi Lauper Singles Collection]. Why isn’t the music industry embracing the same here? I was like a kid in a candy shop! Tower Records and HMV thriving there.

  60. ZoetMB says:

    I totally agree, Paul. The same is true in North America. In the first half of 2019, according to the RIAA, only 8.6 million LP’s were sold vs. 18.6 million CD’s. All of those articles claiming LP’s are outselling CD’s I think emanated from a Rolling Stone article with a bad headline.

    What is true (in North America) is that sometime in 2020, REVENUE (at list prices) from LP’s might meet or exceed revenue from CDs, but that’s because the average list price of LP’s is double that of CD’s.

    But having said all that, we’re actually arguing over scraps. It’s claimed that LPs had a really good holiday season. Let’s say for the year that CD +LP = 75 million units, which is unlikely (it was 68.7 million in 2018). From 1994-1996 and 1998-2000, it was over a BILLION units each year. And let’s not forget that when albums dominated and before downloads and streaming, there were single albums that sold over 10 million copies (in North America). Now, two of those are the industry.

    For the first six months of 2019, streaming constituted 82% of North American music industry revenues.

    Unfortunately, aside from us old fogies, it’s pretty much over for physical media. That doesn’t mean it disappears, but they’ll be fewer releases, fewer boxed sets, fewer remasterings, etc. But I’m not so sure we should blame only the record companies. I blame consumers – consumers who decided that music wasn’t worth the investment and who sold (or bought) the meme – a meme that was completely untrue – that music was too expensive. It was actually far more expensive (inflation adjusted) in the 1960’s and 70’s.

    The other issue is that consumers largely abandoned albums and let singles once again dominate. And they seemed willing to give up all of the artistry of the album jacket and all the great information that the liner notes used to provide.

    So we are where we are. Considering how much used vinyl is still around, at least we know that used CD’s are going to be around forever. Since the advent of the CD, over 14.7 billion have been sold in North America (vs. almost 4 billion LPs, 6.1 billion cassettes and 809 million 8-tracks since 1973).

  61. Mark Peden says:

    I listen to spotify to check links and likes and if i like it then vinyl it is. If its not available then cd’s work for me. Im 49 and been collecting since i was 10 ( albiet my father collected so got me into the hobby). On the odd occasion if i like the cd and it becomes available i may get the lp version just because i like to relax and get the “vibe” when i turn over the record. Being in new zealand records arnt cheap but cds hover around nz $10 bucks as opposed to vinyl at $40. I worked in a hi end stereo store and the owners passion was lp’s, me i have an art background so anther reason why records appeal to me. Long live music collections in what ever format the individual chooses is all i can say.

  62. Adrian BB says:

    Great discussion. Clearly an important topic to those that follow this site. Going to the cynical place…when the music industry was decimated by the mp3, the physical format became irrelevant to most consumers. Books, LPs and cds need shelf space that we don’t have anymore and only super fans care about packaging. The former labels, now media conglomerates, finally worked out they could survive in the streaming era (leaving their artists mostly in the dust) and with retail outlets diminished, the physical product is now catering to a smaller market that will pay more for the music. And you can charge more for LPs, which explains the vinyl only releases for special issues. The label also benefits from the LP being a less practical recording master (for sharing purposes) than the CD. Finally. I believe there has been a change in attitude to leasing music, rather than owning it (As a physical possession). I think the industry would be ok with physical disappearing from a commercial standpoint, as is happening with the DVD.

  63. Dad says:

    Great article Paul! As a committed CD buyer, I’m not going to start re-buying my music on an analog format no matter how lovely the packaging or how many exclusives they get.

    Still my favourite way of buying and listening to music. Love popping a new CD in the car, driving in the country and turning it up loud without having to worry about streaming/reception issues. Always lovely digital sound, and I can rip to FLAC as a backup for my ol’ 160GB iPod too :)

  64. Arr Gee says:

    I don’t care if a recording is on vinyl or CD or download or stream. It’s the music that matters. In fact, the demise of the CD has resulted in a glut of CDs at charity stores that I am happy to purchase at 50p. Ditto DVDs. Cheaper to buy half a dozen DVDs than to rent one.

  65. RayC says:

    Great article Paul. I’m a CD Collector with over 50,000. Long live the CD and Vinyl

  66. Paul Brown says:

    My two cents worth…I got back into vinyl because of the boxsets I have been buying, it seemed to me a waste, if I had it I should play it. I did mainly buy vinyl & cassettes in the 80’s and also bought CD’s when they started out (despite the whole CD vs Vinyl argument that started up back then). They were more expensive than records then (funny how it is the complete opposite now) but I remember being stoked that Depeche Mode’s Black Celebration had more tracks on CD than the record, which is why I bought the CD and not the record. So I guess the music industries manipulation of what you buy has been around a while now. These days I tend to play more CD’s than anything else, they are more convenient but on a Sunday afternoon sometimes it’s quite relaxing to have a vinyl day, getting the record out of the sleeve, putting it on the player, getting up to change sides, even the ones where they have turned 2 sides of vinyl into 4! As for the car I guess as we are empty nesters I do have the time to “faff” about ripping CD’s to the computer and putting them on my Iphone, something quite relaxing about that too. Also it’s all ripped onto an external hardrive so I can bring my music into work to play. And pretty handy in a bushfire area, if it all goes up in smoke at least I’ll have the MP3 files. I will load some CD’s on long trips or going away. I don’t generally bluetooth in the car as I prefer the Iphone cord because it shows the song information on the screen, particularly useful if I shuffle my whole playlist rather than select an album. I won’t use streaming services, I’ve paid enough for the music I have without shelling out more to play what I’ve already got. Lots of very interesting stories about how others listen to their collection, great article!

  67. Gareth Jones says:

    I co-produce an Indie Christmas compilation CD each year (we reached vol.14 in December!!!) and we keep to the same formula every year. No downloads and we don’t put it on streaming sites.

    We do this because we like the idea of making a physical compilation and don’t like the idea of people “cherry picking” tracks to download or skipping a song after 10 seconds on Spotify because it didn’t instantly grab them (granted, you can easily skip tracks on CD too, but l tend to think people will give listening to a whole song at least one chance on a CD).

    We continue to sell the CD each year with no dip in sales. I actually think our sales would drop if we suddenly made it available to stream or download. People would no longer feel the need to buy the CD.

    Also certain bands like Cardiacs continue to refuse putting their albums on Spotify because they know they will only make half-decent money to fund Tim Smith’s health care if they continue selling their physical albums on the Cardiacs website. The moment they put their catalogue on Spotify, their revenue will no doubt significantly fall.

    So my advice to any artist who wants to keep the CD format alive = don’t make your album available on Spotify!!

  68. Adey says:

    Has anybody else noticed that as well as being rubbish quality, the main streaming providers/ download stores also have much less choice of music to offer than what is available in physical formats? I have dabbled in apple music, spotify and even amazon music unlimited (all on the free trials), and not only is the quality of the streaming dull and lifeless, but i actually OWN more official David Bowie, Beatles, Pink Floyd and Oasis music (as well as many more artists), than all of the streaming companies/ download stores put together!

  69. Paul says:

    When I got my latest car, it had no CD player. Two months later, my wife bought me Sonos.

    As someone who has acquired over 10,000 CD’s, I was dragged into going digital. I feel fine. I subscribe to ITunes.

  70. Tony walton says:

    The first record I ever bought was t.rex metal guru…the first lps I ever bought were Aladdin sane by bowie and silverbird by leo sayer still got them after all these years still mint…never would I dream of buying downloaded music…can you imagine somebody in 45 years time saying my first download I bought was such and such and I’ve still got it……physical lp or CD for me……just saying…

  71. Adey says:

    I have a cd- less player in my car now, i love to buy cds, and rip them either in flac or wav to one of my many usb sticks, to play on the go. Not only is the sound crystal clear and bit perfect, but i have a physical cd which is my backup. I can edit the tags, put custom artwork on it, or make compilations whenever i want. I can even store large numbers of albums on each stick. Its even better than the days of backing up vinyl to cassette, as the quality is better, and each Album and track is at my fingertips, to suit my mood on every car journey!
    My only gripe is the lack of “gapless” flack/ wav playback on headunits, as well as the lack of headunits which can show large full- screen album artwork (both missed opportunities by car stereo manufacturers And software designers imho)

    • Mad Earwig says:

      I have loads of Kingston USB sticks, mostly 16/32 gB
      I rip my CD’s in mp3 At 320 as car doesn’t play flax and I can scroll through all the artwork (front covers) easily.
      I have a large screen (BMW) and the covers come up in a ‘flow ‘style.
      Try putting artwork picture in the same album folder and calling the artwork ‘folder’ as that works perfectly.

  72. Geoffro says:

    Paul, you are the voice of rationality and heaven knows I wish EVERYONE in social media could read what you wrote as a sensible and balanced piece of journalism. We know you love vinyl but you know people don’t need to take sides with formats. I am sick of biased pieces supporting one side, be it sport, politics, or pop culture like Star Wars. It comes down to it not being a competition to see who’s best. We each have choices but we don’t need to have superiority complexes. Thanks Paul for telling people how it is..

  73. PAP DX says:

    I only buy physical products myself and I prefer CD’s to vinyl.However, I want to point out something that was not mentioned here. Have you ever thought that the music promotes streaming and tries to do away with physical products and even digital downloads, because they think that in this way they will eliminate piracy?

    • Adey says:

      I totally agree, PAP DX. If you buy a physical album, and it turns out to be rubbish, you can sell it, allowing somebody else to maybe “fall in love” it. With downloads, you can be manipulated into buying something, by record companies, without even hearing it. If you end up being ripped off because its rubbish, or the sound quality is too poor to listen to, you have lost your money.
      At least with a physical format, say a cd, if a better sounding copy is released, or one with extra tracks on it etc, you can sell the first copy and put the money towards a better version.
      Downloading imho is mainly about fatcats trying to have their cake and eat it, by controlling and manipulating people.

    • David Brogren says:

      You got it right PAP DX. The labels have always been leery of any format that can make a exact clone of the original recording. They hated DAT for that reason and inserted serial management chips to avoid a consumer recording at 44.1. It would seem with MP 3 and lower fidelity streaming and the elimination of Compact Disc’s as a generally popular format they will have achieved their goal of reducing the public’s right to make a duplicate digital safety copy. I have vinyl, cassette, DAT, ADAT, and CD’s in abundance so I buy many formats as well. Note that most computers are eliminating CDR drives entirely, likely for the same reason.

  74. Adey says:

    When cds were first released, the only thing i missed about vinyl was the artwork. I still buy cds and will not be forced by fatcat record executives to buy poor quality, drm infested, watermarked, soul-less downloads. I like to OWN a physical cd, which i am not restricted to use. I feel that if a larger number of younger genuine music fans were told the truth by record companies, and weren’t manipulated by them (Or by certain people within the media with their own agendas), we would see more people turning back to Buying physical copies of music as their main “backup”.

  75. Roy LaMark III says:

    I just completed reading each one of the 187 comments on this subject. I am a huge supporter of all physical formats. I do not stream music. I have a CD player in my car and I enjoy picking out CD’s to bring along. CD’s are the only way I listen to music in my car. While I understand that the majority of new vehicles do not come with CD players anymore, what surprised me after reading all of the comments is that NO ONE brought up the idea of “aftermarket” CD player/stereos. Everyone seems to have just resigned themselves to either finding the rare vehicle that comes with a CD player OR bringing downloaded mp3’s with them in their car that does not have a CD player. What happened to the ritual of getting a new/used vehicle, shopping the latest Crutchfield catalog, then installing a quality Kenwood or Sony CD player/receiver as an upgrade to whatever the vehicle came with? Even if today’s cars are a bit more complicated for this to be a “do-it-yourself” job anymore, one can still take your vehicle to an appropriate shop to have this done for you. Like I said initially….I’m just shocked that no one else seems to have pointed this out as a reasonable option for those of us with thousands of CD’s in our collection.

    • Herb says:

      I tried to purchase a 3.5 to USB adapter to use in my car since I don’t even have an aux input in my car and it did not work. I figured I could use my discman but no luck. I can’t use an aftermarket stereo in my car because the audio and havc are all touch screen.

    • -SG- says:

      I think the integrated console units are what hold most back. The fact that the system is designed to interface and may not work properly when you change the components, even the speakers can be affected by changing the stereo and you can end up spending a couple grand to get it to work properly. This of course is done on purpose because subscriptions are a secondary stream of income that can pay for the lifetime of the vehicle, whereas the car stereo was almost an afterthought to car companies in the past. For most punters, good enough is enough, and streaming is the path of least resistance. it is not like they are going to start putting disc players back in cars. the format war is already over really all that is left is a pocket of diehard holdouts who have to figure out how to adapt to what is available.

    • LLRNR says:

      What happened to it is there aren’t any aftermarket options for a lot newer cars. My 2017 Camaro has a touch screen unit and there wasn’t a CD player available for it when I got it as incoming model in 2016 and there still isn’t one now. I talked to Crutchfield about it and someone has to be willing to take that project on. They even tell you on their site, when you enter your vehicle to see what is available, “We don’t recommend replacing the radio in your vehicle.” Otherwise I would’ve replaced mine right away.

  76. LowPop says:

    Without a doubt the most relevant topic for this site and us devoted SDE-ophites. There are so many moving parts to this conversation. Actual conversations within conversations.

    I’ll start by saying that while I understand the concerns regarding the future of CDs that Paul and others have articulated, I’m just not buying it. I buy both CDs and vinyl. Have for decades. Vinyl because it’s my first love. CDs so I can get content not released on vinyl but still in a physical format. For every example like the Police box, there are dozens of cases where either bonus tracks are CD only or entire reissues, box sets SDEs are not made available on vinyl. The scales still heavily favor CDs and I don’t see an indication of any trend in the other direction. A few anomalies maybe but certainly not a shift.

    There are a few not so great trends in packaging and pricing for releases. I completely agree with comments posted here over the past several months that a single offering including both CDs and vinyl is unfair (although it’d be ideal for those points to be made without disparaging the format and its fans). I like having both but it’s not rational to expect someone who prefers CDs only to pay extra for something they don’t want. Give us options. Speaking of options, can we get equivalent offerings for new releases, please? The new Allman Brothers box is available on CD and vinyl; however, the vinyl is only available in a wooden box that’s 10x more expensive. Obviously that’s targeted for die hard fans with money to burn. Why can’t we have just a good old fashion box of vinyl option?

    The resurgence of vinyl is an interesting study. The format all but disappeared for the better part of 20 years. That’s at least a couple generations who as a result, view it as a newer media format than CDs. Some strategic marketing to make it seem “new and improved” (180/200 gram, colour that actually sounds decent, etc). Combined with us lot and our nostalgia, you get the big come back that took place a few years ago. Price played a part as well. When this all started an LP cost £18-£25. When it caught on, the industry got greedy and prices have increased considerably. This is why we can’t have nice things! It’s almost certainly contributed with those year over year reductions.

    CDs on the other hand have forcibly resisted any format improvements over the past 30 years. SHM, blu spec, SACD all had spark but no fire. It’s the only format I can recall that’s persisted despite little to no new innovation. It’s boring! Logically it should’ve evolved to hi-res Blu Ray years ago. Understood there’s the whole Sony thing in the mix there, but still, some evolution beyond where it started 3 decades ago is not unreasonable.

    Finally, it’s sad to say but the future of physical releases won’t have anything to do with us middle aged consumers. We all read a few years ago that younger generations weren’t listening to albums, preferring single tracks and playlists. I was encouraged by the vinyl resurgence foolishly believing it could help to save the album, LP or whatever you prefer to call it as you don’t have the ability to skip tracks and it’s rare to go through the ritual of putting an album on to listen to a single track. The continued increase in price of vinyl will ultimately kill it for younger generations, making it cost prohibitive. Let’s enjoy all physical formats while we’re able!!

  77. Julian Hancock says:

    I was interested to read this on the BBC website, in an article about Rough Trade shops. “Vinyl is Rough Trade’s top seller these days, accounting for three-quarters of all sales. “Rough Trade can represent 75% of total release week vinyl sales for a top 10 UK album chart entry, with just four stores and roughtrade.com,” In which context it isn’t surprising that of the top 20 vinyl albums sold last year, only 6 or 7 ( from memory) were released in 2019.

    • Wayne Klein says:

      Something to keep in mind that 1) after years of a vinyl drought when it comes to multiple titles, artists, the industry has started reissuing titles 2) many of the titles on CD that are not new albums by new artists would not compare in sales to total vinyl because most folks have already purchased these 3) vinyl fans are less likely to buy CDs (at least the hardcore ones who have always disdained CD or digital) and they are probably more likely to go into these shops.

      I don’t think that this is an illusion but they are catering to a smaller niche crowd so it may seem like the revival for vinyl is actually larger than it is especially if folks flock to stores with the improved choices for vinyl.

      In my experience it’s also much more of a hassle to return vinyl by mail, get a replacement disc vs going to the shop (if they have a food return policy which, frankly, favors industry now not retailers in an ass backwards move).

  78. Eric says:

    Paul, what a spot on perfectly explained summary of the current situation! Record companies only give 2 shits about profit, profit & profit. As a hard product consumer of 30 years, I’ve seen the decline of West End music shops that I spent hours & hours perusing. Now my life is mostly perusing Amazon & London & a few other UK Cities lifestyle & time permitting. I’ve stopped buying records , yes we called them “Records” a long time ago because I don’t have a player anymore, I love playing CD’s on my surround system which is my pride & joy. Tapes are a blip, I don’t care for streaming / downloading. I give less than a flying fuck about them & will never never spend money on it!!, I love this site & opening / reading / listening to a box set of an album that I loved as a younger man. I know me & what I would describe as “connesiours” on this website. I believe that what we all love here is slowly dying. This generation who treat music as as something you can turn on & off like a tap will have no value / sentimental value for what we all love here. I have money & I want to spend it on. Well done, thoughtfully executed box set of whatever. I’m not the only one & for the record company accountants / people who assemble these things, please listen to us!! I hate the fact that new cars don’t have CD systems in & the hardware is on the way down. It’s a clusterfuck. We are valuable & are your customers so don’t lose us or piss us off! We want to help you do good stuff & through that you can still make a profit! I hope I’ve made sense here!

  79. Patrick Tierney says:

    I work for a plastic compounding firm. We make plastic pellets for various manufacturers. When I started 18 years ago, we made perhaps 5 tonnes of record vinyl per month. Last week we made 46 tonnes. It’s going somewhere! (Unlike normal plastic, record vinyl only has one use. It cannot be used for anything else).

  80. Nick says:

    I Have Bought Vinyl and CDs – Mini Discs and Tapes Since I was 9…… But mostly Vinyl… I still am 37 Years Later – Like many others i have Thousands and thousands of Vinyl Records in My Collection – i dread to think what i spend on vinyl a Month !

    I Want a physical Format – To be able to Read the Notes while playing the Record – remember when you used to nail the sleeves to your bedroom wall???

    I have never Paid for or bought a Physical Download and I NEVER Will

    Heaven Forbid if they ever did stop making vinyl or CDs (Which They Won’t)

    I definitely would never pay for a download – so would spend my money on something else ….

  81. backwards7 says:

    I own thousands of CDs. The oldest is a Whitney Houston album from the 80s, cribbed from my late grandparent’s collection. The newest is Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs’ superlative Daisy Age compilation.

    While I cannot deny the visual appeal of vinyl, space is an issue and compact discs are a happy compromise that also satisfies my otherwise redundant hunter/gatherer instincts.

    I like the ritual of playing music on a physical format. Locating on a spreadsheet, the numbered cardboard box where the desired compact disc resides. The act of retrieving it. The chance re-acquaintance with other, forgotten, albums during this process. Putting it in the player. It’s a commitment to listening to a piece of music.

    I am of the mind that, if you care about something, then you should take personal responsibility for it. Online streaming services are fickle and constantly changing their catalogs. I look after my CDs and they repay me one-thousand fold.

  82. Adam says:

    I’m sure there will be a CD revival in time, just like there was for vinyl. I love both CD and vinyl, and if they were dispensed with, I’d just listen to everything on YouTube for free. I find it a shame that formats like blu ray audio, SACD and DVD-A, didn’t really take off, because they really are superior.

  83. ANGel says:

    Thank you for the article!
    I think the same. The CDs is the most perfect audio-format of all the times. Vinyl has only value, if it is recorded in pre-digital age, i.e. before 1982-1984. Super sound of the most recent vinyl is profanation of marketing experts and it has no relation to the warm analogue sound of the authentic LPs of 1950s-1970s.

    • LowPop says:

      This is false, at best misleading. There are several artists who still record their music with analog equipment. Jack White and Neil Young spring to mind. The reason they do this is that sound is an analog wave. To record or covert to digital, that analog wave of sound is sampled. It will never be 100% fully replicated digitally.

  84. Stevie B says:

    I think ALL physical formats for music will die within the next 5 years. All that’s keeping physical sales alive are a group of individuals who grew up with physical music be it CD or Vinyl or Cassette.

    That younger music fans are buying CD or Vinyl is nothing but a final death rattle for physical music.

    When iTunes started I vowed I would never buy from them. Now half of what I buy is physical and half downloads. Add streaming services into the mix and I really think given the environmental issues with all physical formats, either this generation or the next will be the ones to kill off all physical formats.

    What’s left will be what vinyl is now… a niche market for geeks and hipsters.
    I doubt many music fans in the future will be lovingly
    running their hands over copies of The White Album say, on CD. A vinyl edition I’m sure will have it’s appreciators. So rather than bemoan how Record companies ‘treat’ certain formats, at the end of the day, the thing music lovers missed when CD was King was holding a vinyl copy.

    Ultimately Streaming and Downloads and VINYL will kill CD. Long live the King.

    • Steve w says:

      Ultimately streaming will probably kill all physical formats.

      People will eventually get more tired of the high costs and limitations of the vinyl format, it won’t survive either.

      Until that point, there is no need for the industry itself to constructively generate negativity towards the CD format, especially as it is the one that is somehow clinging on to the title of being the biggest selling physical format for another year, a true winner.

    • As a long-term buyer of both films (primarily on Blu-ray) and music (on CD, or Blu-ray Audio in the very few instances that companies/bands recognise the massive potential there) I’ve been hearing people say the same thing (that physical media will be dead) for the last five years and probably before that.
      So, whilst sales will probably continue to drop, I suspect they will hit a certain level and then continue onwards to sell for many years to come as collectors continue to buy, even if it’s because boutique labels spring up and start licensing music to resell in special editions (just as it has happened with films). The major studios are not needed for this, they just need to be willing to license out their material.

  85. Mad Earwig says:

    I tend to preface my comments with ‘each to their own’ and I do so again.

    There is no right and wrong here, I have a huge collection of CD built after selling my vinyl years ago.
    I couldn’t live with pops and dust and the twenty minutes per side playing time.
    I also have a massive collection in Flac to play in secondary rooms.

    A lot of people buy vinyl as its on trend and we all know people who want to be fashionable. Vinyl can sound better on certain equipment but it’s ‘warmth’ is not for everyone.

    I love the humble CD as it sounds very good on my very good stereo. It is compact and easily stored.

    A well produced CD like the latest Dave Matthews album sounds stunning whereas a lot of poorly produced albums can sound thin but I still love the music!
    Car playback was mentioned earlier and this will always be a compromise but I love using tiny Kingston 64 GB usb sticks, filling them with mp3 albums at 320kbps quality and in the car I get a good sound and artwork on my screen, it is brilliant as I won’t take my CD’s in the car and each stick holds many many albums.
    I’m not a fan of Spotify as the app emphasis is on ‘popular streams’ and ‘best ofs‘ whereas I am an album man. Again, if you prefer to stream, then do so.
    I also believe that unlimited music for a tenner breeds indifference to the music as it’s too much.

    One thing this site highlights is that we all like different stuff, whether it’s the music, the format, the content of the package etc.

    We should rejoice that we have so much choice of artist, content and format.
    As I said, each to their own.

    • Cat Thuder says:

      “I couldn’t live with pops and dust and the twenty minutes per side playing time.”

      I couldn’t agree more!

      Add to that the distorted bass on tracks closer to the label and the fact that the sound deteriorates every time you play the record as the needles literally “cuts” into the vinyl each time. It stands to reason that the first time you play the record is the optimum and it’s all downhill after that. I know this to be true as despite possessing a very nigh-end Technics turntable and setting up the tone arm and cartridge perfectly, I still managed to wear out Japanese copies of many David Bowie and Lou Reed records.

      Give me a CD, or better still an SACD or Blu-ray Audio disc anytime over vinyl.

  86. Colin Harper says:


  87. Donald Biscuits says:

    Just spent days transferring my vinyl to Really Usefull plastic crates for our house move. So at the moment I hate vinyl. I will have reshelve the lot and listen to grumbling removal men for a day. It’s made me think I should seriously buy fewer records in future and cds are looking more appealing right now. However I know that next crate find or brilliant reissue will reignite the flame.

  88. Levente says:

    One fluorescent elephant in the room is the mastering work (badly) done on many CDs that then acquire the label of “sounds bad”. Many confuse the medium and the content, so often a terribly compressed CD with crippled dynamic range, plus a lifeless remix, makes the content sound bad – however, as obvious as this may be, it is not the fault of the medium.
    So of course, comparing such releases with vinyl, even if we put aside the RIAA correction and the different emphasis in vinyl mastering, the vinyl will sound fuller and “better”.
    As a DSP guy, it really drives me up the wall when this intentional or just ignorant confusion of medium vs. content is made.
    Considering the dynamic range, linearity etc. etc. etc. of CD as a medium, it is vastly superior, this is just an objective fact – but WHAT is put on them is another story. Latter can be so atrocious, that aside from noise, even an old tape version sounds warmer and “better”.
    Looking at how even landmark classics have been re-re-released in endlessly remastered CD form with criminally amputated dynamic range, some even in the red on the dynamic range database scale, no wonder many can very rightly say that the vinyl version sounds better.
    Anyway, just leaving this here on the side of the marketing, future media direction etc. considerations…

    • Marxisn't says:

      Dead right Levente. Sounds worse because it’s ruined. There are so many badly mastered and ‘remastered’ CD’s out there…. It really is a crapshoot. The volume on CD’s has been creeping up since the mid 90’s (thanks Oasis!). Check out those early CD’s…. Sooooo much headroom; as they were meant to be turned up. I’m a fan of the analogue warmth (and distortion) of vinyl… But this vinyl is better is just a con for early 30 something’s and younger to sell a medium that was once half the price. Now sold for above double. Even with modern mastering you are dragging a needle through plastic, the silent bits you are going to hear that. Some people like that and more power to them, and people should be allowed to choose whatever format they like. The industry is dictating to the marketplace, which is the tail wagging the dog. I like dynamics loud and quiet but in CD we are/ have lost that in mastering… To one flat uninspiring audio line for no reason other than deliberate sabotage. We are being had!

      • Steve w says:

        Early CD’s were quiet, tech then moved on so more dB can be put on safely without distortion.
        Volume and compression crept in during the 90’s as you say but it was on both vinyl and CD, mostly I think from the dance scene.

        I think people are getting a bit carried away with volume being a sign of compression rather than transfer from the master upped by a few dB.
        I’ve hear people say ‘this is badly compressed’ when yes, the volume is louder, but also a remix has taken place and more detail can be picked out, due to a mix change – not over use of compression.
        The compression of dynamics is not so much of a thing now on CD as it was back in the 90’/2000’s. Some remasters are bad full stop across all formats.

        I’ve had some terrible remasters on vinyl in recent years, all bottom end, mid range, no high end, distortion. The 180grm ‘audiophile’ vinyl thing is not to be trusted as it doesn’t always guarantee quality reproduction.

        • Jules(Rules) says:

          @Steve w

          Compression is vastly different in the digital vs. analogue domain. Digital sound has a -0dB “barrier”, which is the loudest possible sound… therefore making something louder almost always means compressing or limiting the sound. It’s never a good sign when you insert a CD and the first thing you do is turn down the sound!

  89. Poptones says:

    Interesting article and you’re right about streaming being the champion and king format (it’s also worth to note that streaming saved the industry which is now growing by double digits thanks to this format) but about CD vs vinyl, you should mention revenues and not only units sold.

    It’s interesting to compare UK and US, BPI and RIAA numbers.
    In february last year, the RIAA published a report on the music industry in the US and Rolling Stones made an article about that :
    “Per the RIAA, revenue from shipments of physical products last year (2018) fell to $1.15 billion, a 23 percent drop from 2017, and CD revenue in particular fell 34 percent; CDs made $698 million last year, marking the first time that format has reported sub-billion-dollar revenue since 1986. Vinyl is the only thing that continues to be an odd bright spot, increasing 8 percent in that same period, to $419 million, which is the highest number for the category since 1988. That means that by value, vinyl is now making up more than one-third of physical music revenue.”

    Again in september 2019, RIAA published its mid-year report suggesting vinyl was poised to outsell CDs for the first time since 1986.
    “Vinyl records earned $224.1 million (on 8.6 million units) in the first half of 2019, closing in on the $247.9 million (on 18.6 million units) generated by CD sales. Vinyl revenue grew by 12.8% in the second half of 2018 and 12.9% in the first six months of 2019, while the revenue from CDs barely budged. If these trends hold, records will soon be generating more money than compact discs.”

    RIAA data and reports can be found on their website :

    • Steve w says:

      The idea of the article I believe was to highlight the other dimension (units sales) to the value of sales as that seems to be the narrative repeatedly reported by the industry.

      How did streaming save the industry?
      I’ve heard this repeated a lot yet no real explanation.
      How about streaming’s treatment of artists?

      As a consumer, not an industry bean counter, it’s more interesting to note the unit sales when it comes to physical formats, especially when the one currently being vilified by the music industry itself is still selling more units than any other physical format.

    • Daniel Wylie says:

      That’s because vinyl is massively overpriced.

  90. Chris Squires says:

    Trying to look ahead…. the ideal for the dying record industry is to give you nothing for something. As many here have noted, they do not wish to rent their music. To be at the mercy of labels and companies like spotify that can make stuff (entire collections or playlists) disappear at the flick of a switch.
    Someone below brought up the memory of companies and artists trying to bring in a compulsory tax on second hand physical media so every time a used CD changed hands a levy would have to be paid. This is the type of thinking that companies will employ once they have have seen off “ownership” via a physical product. We will see extra tiers of paywall introduced as Spotify seeks to monetarize its market share, in much the same way that Amazon operates. It’s taking a loss now at £10 a month or £15 for a family. But once it feels it is safe to do so I think they will do away with the free service, or at least cripple it even further to the point of uselessness. Then the paid services will start at £10 with tier B artists but to access the tier A artists it will double to £20 a month. It might not work but you can see that is what they want. A pretty much instant doubling of income. Netflix are doing the same incrementally, in the last two years it has gone from £9.99 to £11.99 for the top tier service. It will not stop there as it boils its frogs slowly.
    Somewhere in the next 10 to 20 years we will become an irrelevant force as those whose golden years were 1978 to 1985 all turn 70 and find the tide impossible to reverse.
    Arguing and in-fighting will only accelerate the process akin to shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic.
    It’s a strange world we are entering with our mindset of wanting to spend money on products we want to buy but record companies not wanting to sell it to us as they have their eyes on a far more lucrative, but long term, prize.
    Own nothing, rent everything.
    The thing that might scupper their wishes is that the generation they hope to ensnare in this rental Ponzi scheme might not give a toss. Once I stop paying for the family Spotify will our children be bothered to pick up the bill?

    • CAB says:

      Own nothing, rent everything…….

      It’s aposite to your argument that music software designers have been pulling this trick for a while now. I have a very old Mac running Logic Audio which is dongled (therefore I own that programme for as long as the computer platform runs ). I also have plugins that I use within Logic. Some of these are registered to another dongle (therefore I own them as permanently activated plugins.)
      However, over the last few years I have lost access to plugins that I paid good money for because of what plug-in develepors call ‘end of support’.

      What this means is that if one element of my hardware set-up changes (for instance a hard disk), I have to re-register the plug-in. The developer then makes it impossible to re-register by various means, rendering the product unuseable. What they are doing in this case is expressly stopping a perfectly functioning and registered piece of software from functioning.

      I now keep a bare-bones computer set up for music making and have gone back to physical hardware to make music with because the updates and ‘support’ scam is one I can’t bear.
      There’s a warning in there – don’t give companies the control to arbitrarily withdraw access to what you paid for.

      • Paul Sinclair says:

        I agree. It’s why I’m still using Adobe CS3 on my Mac OS Sierra, even though I think they say this isn’t supported. I might be tempted to upgrade if I could buy a new version but I refuse to pay a monthly subscription fee FOR EVER to upgrade.

    • RJS says:

      The tiers that Netflix have are to do with picture quality and the number of devices you can simultaneously cast to. Other than that, it’s the same menu for all customers. If Spotify ever introduce tiers, it will be in regards to audio quality. Amazon introduced a couple of different tiers based on sound quality a few months ago. I’m too entrenched in the habit of buying CDs but if I was 20 years old now, it would be Spotify all the way – all you can listen to for £5 less than a new release CD cost 30 years ago. Even if they introduce HQ audio for £20 a month, it will still be a bargain. Less clutter in the long term too!

  91. Shawn C. says:

    I’m an early adopter of digital music. I started using iTunes pretty much after it launched for Windows in 2003 (I’ve since switched to Mac). By that point I had amassed several thousand CDs and spent a great deal of time ripping the CDs and importing them into iTunes at 320bps. Those CDs have been in boxes in the basement for a good 15 years. That has remained my practice ever since.

    I have never purchased much digital music. Initially my collection consisted of my own rips, then I subscribed to Amazon music and now Apple Music. I also subscribe to Spotify, but only because my kids refuse to use Apple Music. I tried Tidal, I can’t tell the difference, and I like Apple Music better.

    I still buy CDs, but they are restricted primarily to reissues and box sets. Even then, however, I still rip them and primarily listen to them through my computer or iPhone. For example, I recently bought Pink Floyd’s “The Later Years,” ripped the CDs and am listening to them via Bluetooth from my computer now. Sacrilege, perhaps, but I have not physically put a CD into a CD player or DVD/Blu-ray player in years. I rarely buy new release music on CD, but listen to it through my Apple Music subscription. I think my car has a CD player in it, but have never used it.

    I got into vinyl about three years ago and do spend a great deal of money on it. Primarily reissues, but if it is a newer artist I really like, for example War on Drugs, Lord Huron, etc.…, I have bought those on vinyl. So, in the end, I guess I’d say I fall into the camp Paul is concerned about – I’m pretty laissez faire about the demise of the CD, though I have purchased and loved the format for 30 years. I suppose I feel like digital music is digital music and, personally, I can’t detect the difference between CD or “lossless” digital and my ripped music or even the streaming music on Apple Music. I do continue to buy CD reissues, but new releases on CD? Haven’t bought them in years and don’t plan to start.

    Vinyl is another story, I can tell the difference between vinyl and digital. From the physical aspect of having to remove it from its sleeve, put the needle on the vinyl, and turning the record over when it ends, and of course the warm sound – all of which I love (maybe not turning it over). I love vinyl and will buy it, old or new.

    Finally – cassette tapes. Give me a break. I bought them when they were the primary format but never missed them for a second once CDs became predominant. Sounded like crap, even the best ones, came apart in your tape deck, just a lousy format. Why they are back I have no idea.

    • Mad Earwig says:

      I am making an observation, not a criticism and I understand your love of this convenience but as long as you appreciate that mp3 is an inferior medium to start with, utilising compression and masking.
      Then you play via Bluetooth, further reducing the musicality.
      Compare a ‘proper’ photograph to a jpeg and you get the picture.

      If you got the CD’s out of storage and played them on a humble CD Player, Amp and speakers, you’d be blown away at the detail and depth….

  92. Oscar Cosulich says:

    Very Great article Paul!
    I totally agree with you. Also in Italy, where I live, there is with misunderstanding (promoted by industry) about the success of vinyl against CDs, when the unfortunate reality is that the most part of people listen music on youtube without buying anything.
    I still have thousands (2.000 actually) of them and they’re fine, but in the last 30 years I’ve bought only CDs and boxsets (usually, with very few exceptions, only the ones without vinyls inside), and hopefully I’ll continue do it until my financial situation let me do it.
    Have Good Listenings all you friends in music: the Force is still with us

  93. Ricardo Sardo says:

    Another excelent and pertinent article by you, Paul.

    All the formats worth existing (I’m glad they do). The analogue formats (vinil, cassette or master tape) and the digital (CD, DVD-Audio, Bluray-Audio or streaming) have theirs pros and cons but I still prefer the digital formats and still buy a lot of records, every month, because I love music and also the keep my shelves “up to date”. There are always many gaps and many musical genres to cover. I love superdeluxeditions, even thought, there are some who should have been better idealized (a tinny example is the lack of inner plastic sleeves inside the cardboard sleeves, that protect the CDs and that are used on Japanease realeases) .

    Last year I’ve bought a few, from The Goo-Betweens, Gong, Gene Clark, OMD, Gentle Giant or Heaven 17. I think that this is the way to go, to give value to the artists/bands who deserved to be highlighted.

    I listen to a lot of music via Tidal Hi-Fi and it really sounds great (Spotify has a huge catalogue but poor sound quality), but for enjoying it in “full potential” we do have to get a good streamer+DAC , wich I do at home, in my main Hi-Fi system. But for those who aren’t true audiophiles and like to enjoy a much more engaging experience and do not want to spend an extra ammount of money on a dedicated streamer+DAC, they can simply plug an USB DAC (like the excelent Audioquest Cobalt) to the computer or the cell phone and listen via hedphones or connected to an amplifier.

    Perhaps I deviate a little bit from the main theme, but I think a true music lover/audiophile, like me, deserves nothing but the best, and should listen in the best possible way. Those who haven’t tryed to reproduce music like this, are missing a lot, that’s for sure.

  94. Alan says:

    A very well written article. Like many people I ditched vinyl back in the 1990’s and then rediscovered it around 6 years ago, I’ve bought nearly 1,000 records in that time (second hand and new). I still buy CD’s and enjoy the fact that I now have the choice of buying either CD or vinyl (or both if it’s a band like Stereolab). I feel that this is the best time to buy a physical format, there are signed copies, limited colour vinyl, good packaging with interesting sleeve notes etc. I don’t stream/Spotify. Physical product will always be my preferred choice. When I was given a new van at work I was very disappointed (to the great amusement of a co-worker) to find it had no CD player so purchased a MP3 player, I’ve ripped the latest batch of CD’s I have and can still continue to listen to my own collection (and the CD’s remain in pristine condition). Personally I think a younger generation will buy into physical product at some point and the wheel will keep turning.

  95. Stephen says:

    Great article Paul – the quality of thought provoking insight we’re getting used to here.

    I see no reason why these formats can’t live side by side – the recent mega box sets by Gentle Giant, Steve Hillage, Wishbone Ash et al have demonstrated a real and practical role for the CD – those sets would have been completely impractical on vinyl.

    So long live both formats I say! (This from one who also bought into MiniDisc! :-))

    • H says:

      Fully agree with you Stephen – there is definitely a market for both formats ; if only the record companies would realise that we don’t need a mixed format in box sets – if it’s a good product it will sell in either format.
      I moved over to cd’s from vinyl and won’t be going back ( not to minidisc or Betamax either ! )
      Great article Paul.

  96. Leemer says:

    Judging from my consumption, my guess is that people buy vinyl but end up listening to streaming audio at work and in the car. No real time for the record sit-down and listen. I buy the vinyl to support artists I love and and to appreciate the artwork.


    • Brixet says:

      Not here, buy a fair bit of new vinyl and listen to it daily. Surely it’s a hipster/millennial myth that hundreds of thousands of people buy new vinyl records but never listen to them?

      Buy plenty of CDs and listen to them both at home and in the car for a couple of hours per day – thankfully new German cars still come with CD players! The lack of a CD player would be a deciding factor when getting a new motor.

  97. tim Brooks says:

    Great article, spot on and good to see someone with your status tell it like it is. I made the personal choice that CD was the superior format 35 years ago and have no interest in reversing this decision and buying vinyl.
    I now benefit as I can pick up CDs for next to nothing in charity shops with a good cause benefiting not the artist/industry. In cases of harder to find releases Music Magpie or ebay to the rescue.
    Pretty much everything has been issued on CD so its available, but in many cases we are being forced to buy second hand by the fools that run the music industry.
    I love Prefab Sprout and would love to have bought the remastered versions, but not on vinyl. I have the original CD issues so poor Paddy looses out. It really is the industry cutting its nose off to spite its face.
    I just don’t bother with Record Store day. 4 years ago I was in the queue an hour before store opened when CD was part of the mix.
    Well done for calling this out, I have enough CDs to last me a lifetime, stream MY music library on Alexa so the industry will see little money from me going forward. I will still support artists by seeing them live in smaller venues but its all a real shame!

    • Dave R says:

      I would respectfully disagree with the statement that pretty much everything has been issued on CD. By the major artists, maybe, but there are still hundreds of albums I have/had on vinyl that have yet to be released on CD; whether that is because the major labels have no interest in releasing them or licensing them to any other concern, the rights holders can no longer be determined or, in some cases, the legal ramifications of reissuing something just aren’t worth the bother.

  98. Gavin says:

    Streaming is a win win for record companies..we buy the vinyl or cd ..no way of playing them on the move in the future so we all subscribe to a streaming company as well ..effectively paying to rent music we already own … as physical sales reduce record companies are future proofed and then can charge more and more for physical formats which become niche products… I’ve got 1000’s of cds and 1000’s of vinyl ..will have to accept a streaming sub at some time in the future once my next car loses a CD player and will have to make sure my phone contract has unlimited data ..it is the future I’m afraid

    • Mark says:

      Why do you have to switch to streaming if your car doesn’t have a cd player? Just rip your CDs to MP3 and put them on a USB stick. That way you don’t have to pay the fat cats twice.

      For the record (no pun intended), I will never subscribe to a streaming device.

  99. Tim Martin says:

    Thanks for publishing this Paul, there are some interesting stats. Oddly I wrote about the same subject on my music blog for record store day last year. My conclusions were very similar. If you’re interested it is here https://bit.ly/30wYWZt The role of HMV in propping up the physical media market is also important in providing a volume seller to make releases (such as they are) worthwhile. Most hobby markets are the same. Small craft shops are supported by Hobbycraft, camping shops by Go Outdoors. Their buying power makes import and manufacture realistic. The secondhand CD and vinyl market is worth about £500 million per year according to one source i found. As I buy most CDs used this works for me.

  100. Darryl says:

    Sounds like I’m in the minority here, but I really wouldn’t mind if the music industry goes all digital as long as they do it right. What I mean by “right” is that I own the files instead of essentially renting them through a subscription service, they are high audio quality, and we get sufficiently diverse content (including extras like those we tend to see in super deluxe edition re-releases). The music industry seems to be exploring whether it is financially feasible to deliver such a thing, but I fear they’ve mostly given up on non-subscription avenues.

    • Shawn C. says:

      I tend to agree with you Darryl. I love Apple Music, but have started to lose track of the music I own (ie, ripped from CD) and that I have added to my library from Apple (ie. rented). It does worry me at times – what if Apple Music ceases to exist? What if something better comes along and I want to switch. This hit home this year when they basically “killed” iTunes and went to the Music program and, in the process, lost many of the things I loved about being able to organize and control my music. It isn’t the format that worries me, bu the process.

      • jsd says:

        Shawn C. – you can make a smart playlist with a rule of “iCloud Status is Apple Music” and this will help you separate out the “rented” from the “owned”.

  101. Mister Stick says:

    So many great comments on a fascinatin’ topic. In deference to the group’s time, let me try to be crisp, clean, and concise. Might fail, forgive if so.

    One or the other? Nah. I have a couple of good turntables and use ’em and love ’em, but I think CDs are still the best value for music purchase, and certainly the choice for most box sets. Remember when CDs were 18 bucks and vinyl 10? Now, look at the ratio – CDs 10 smackers, LPs at least twice that. Consequently, most LPs and vinyl singles that hit my shelves are used. The crate-digging will always be fun and the prices right. Can’t count how many times I have taken home 4 great albums for 20 bucks, cleaned them up nicely, and made an evening of it. And, that leaves some dough for the beer, right? Also for a Tidal subscription, which fills the gaps: convenient in the office, a great way to hear what you read about, and right now. But I still feel the nag to own what means most to me. Plus, with streaming, you can be easily distracted by what is suggested, and you tend to bounce around too much. The ADD has control. Put on a CD or record, and you… Get. Into. It.

    Complaints about the sound of CDs used to be common (for the first 10 or 15 years we had them, everybody loved them, then one day they were pronounced as crap – go figure). But whenever I heard someone say that CDs sound bad, I’d ask them how much they invested in a disc player. You can guess the answer: As little as they could, and that was 25 years ago. Or they left it to a thrown-in-with-the-TV DVD player to do the job. Many times younger people had only ever played CDs with a laptop or some kind of game box. Of course, brickwalled masters were also a problem, but I get the feeling from the newer releases (and certainly from deluxe reissues) that this has finally eased. Plus, so many reissues in Blu-Ray now… Great. So, “spend on the kitchen before you complain of the food.”

    Another value to discs: They tell you they are there, with just their physical presence. Simply walking past your shelves might remind you that haven’t played that Flipper or Roy Haynes album in years… better get to it. All the little devils need to do is let their spines get glimpsed, or be noticed when you are making room for a few more. Files don’t really do that, do they? When was the last time you got all the way down the list to an iTunes purchase from 2009? Exactly.

    About the car thing: I’m up for a new ride this year, and as far as I can tell, no CD player is avail in the one I want. A drag, but I can see how it happened. Sure, Apple and other techno partners probably pushed deals on automakers. They both want to get to get their snouts deeper into the subscription-model trough… You pay Spotify for the music, you pay the car company for the on-board wifi, etc., and a CD player means you might not bother with Sirius. But I think something else is afoot around here (that would be the Detroit factory skirt, which goes out 100 miles in all directions). For the auto company, it means one less thing on-board with moving parts. Plenty of in-dash CD players have come back to the dealer for warranty repair or replacement and the less of that for them, the better. For one thing, the mechanics would have to spend otherwise-billable time trying to eject the CD that was stuck in there, often with a torque wrench the size of a golf club, “’cause that’s what they gives you ’round here.”

    Thanks for the first great rant of the year, Paul… No, of the DECADE, right?

  102. O(+> Peter B says:

    I like CDs and records but have a limited budget. My music spending would be at least 90% CD. I bought the last Chemical Brothers album on CD as this was AUD$20 at JB Hi-Fi in Australia and they had the 2LP vinyl at AUD$70. Also a big price difference with the Stereolab and Prince reissues last year.
    I occasionally use the free version of Spotify to decide whether something is worth buying. I can’t justify paying for Spotify Premium with the size of my collection. The free version has adverts but I just treat it like a radio station where I choose some songs and turn down the ads. A lot of my favourite music is not on Spotify, like the first few albums by The Hellacopters or many indie and garage rock bands from the 90s or hip-hop 12” remixes from the golden era which I have on vinyl but haven’t been digitally released.
    I don’t play records much, usually converting them to digital files and playing them through my iPod Classic or iPhone, until one day when I hope to get a better quality turntable.
    I have have music set up in the car (a VW Polo with a CD player in the glove compartment) as follows: a CD with my grandkids favourite songs on it; my wife’s music on the SD card (which she loves); and the USB connection for my phone/iPod.
    Very interesting and relevant article, Paul.

  103. -SG- says:

    I think the record companies have wanted to find away from CD’s since napster and CD recorders. Even Garth Brooks tried to fight to make the sale of used CD’s illegal back in the 90’s.
    The format is easily replicated and lasts virtually forever and can be easily loaned to a friend, streaming is a way to offer the music in the cloud and keep charging for it forever. If streaming is the only choice then what are people to do, especially people who have never invested in a collection and there is no secondary market to choose from.
    It comes down to control with a collection you have a choice of the mastering, the sound quality. If one day your favorite artist says something that is not politically correct, you can still listen to them if you so desire, if you have the CD, streaming, we are faced with the nanny-state newspeak specialists that can decide for us what is safe to listen to. New hits may be download and cloud only, it may someday be erased by the click of the mouse.
    Ultimately this is all about money. If it remains profitable to make product, it will continue. In my experience I found a great majority of major label execs don’t really like music that much anyway, it is a job and it is a way to make money. It shows.

  104. Robert says:

    I’m one that owns thousands of cds to go with thousands of vinyl albums and I still use my iPhone for music while driving. That being said , what will the next ten years be like ? I don’t stream although I’ve heard great things about it but will it even be around? Companies like Spotify are so deep in the hole that they can’t possibly survive with the same business model they’ve been doing. They don’t produce original content so they are limited as to what they can do. They are essentially renting out the music until a rival offers a better deal. This is why Netflix , among others, started creating their own content – to make bigger profits and have a sustainable future. Until streaming does that i feel its future is limited.

  105. Silica says:

    I can only speak from my own musical journey regarding formats, as i guess we all have our own journey and our tastes seem to develop and change over time. I remember in the 90’s it was pretty much announced that vinyl was dead, to be phased out by CD. That didn’t really happen, in fact HMV has now ploughed back into vinyl to get people in the doors.

    Over the years i have bought heavily into all formats, i always did and will always love vinyl, when it’s pressed right and played on good equipment, the warmth of the sound is just something else. I think the CDs pressed during the 90s often sounded wonderful too. The ‘loudness’ wars of the early 2000’s onwards and OTT remastering was low point for CDs.

    With vinyl you can’t skip through easily, it encourages you to take a journey with the artist or band. The artwork and notes felt more important on a lovely sleeve. Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’, a great example of the thought and care place on the cover alone.

    However vinyl damages easily and does need to be transferred over to digital if you want to keep your vinyl in the very finest condition (a case where analogue and digital can work side by side). Other formats and ideas have come & gone, Minidisc/DAT/3D/Quad or Q sound to name a few.

    This doesn’t mean i don’t like CDs, i always had a soft spot for the CD Singles, with many artists putting out loads of B-sides, out-takes, remixes on a CD for just 1.99 in the days of Virgin Megastores.

    Bjork putting out CD Singles/VHS boxes, you could get 12” Picture Discs, 7” vinyl, all sorts of things on a Monday morning (as it was then). It was often a joy to pop in and find some weird and wonderful releases, very cheap by today’s standards. I do miss those days, i would come back with all sorts of formats …

    The millennium, onwards, brought us streaming and i use it to test the waters of new releases (from old to new artists) and to find new talent, especially through the ‘you may like this’ section. Which has been really interesting. Sadly i do feel as if we are being pushed into consuming music in a different way, the younger generation may tend to think, ”well if it’s free to stream/download, why would i pay for it!?” Overall, if i really want it, i will go buy it, i do try to support the artist if i can.

    The physical form of vinyl is expensive, the CD getting cheaper and you can stream even cheaper. Physical music does take up space, vinyl especially tricky to store. For me, i will always be one of those multi format buyers and i will always prefer to have a physical product in my hand to play and look at over time.

    Sadly i think the future is very uncertain, the quality control and releases, especially of the super deluxe sets can be very, very hit & miss. Some box sets wonderful and others, not even worth a fraction of the asking price with errors and omissions.

    Will future generations afford lavish box sets and the physical format? Will the future be totally digital!? Only time will tell, but like many of us here, i have enjoyed the journey and love my multi format collection whatever the future holds … :-)

  106. john says:

    My preference is for CDs, but have been annoyed at how it is often not being fully utilised for re-issues as it once were. If you are providing bonus content why not make your package as complete as possible and use the full space of a CD? Have seen many examples of original album (usually 40 odd minutes) on one CD on it’s own and additional material on other discs and bonus material being excluded which could have fit on the first disc (if you want to preserve the experience of listening to the original album on it’s own can’t you just press stop after the last track?). Also, are we now starting to see CD packages being configured to match vinyl instead of the other way round? (eg Abbey Road deluxe with 2 CDs but only equivalent to 2 LPs in length). Also don’t think record companies are helping CD sales by producing low quality products, eg compilation CDs for some artists without a decent booklet even telling you which album each track originally came from. One thing that has put me off purchasing full albums digitally is the lack of information supplied-there should be a pdf or other file included of the basic credits if not an equivalent of the CD artwork/booklet. As mentioned elsewhere, I also prefer to compile my own “complete ultimate super deluxe editions” digitally from all the various CD versions of an album (and other sources) to include all the relevant tracks that have been invariably held back/left off/forgotten/now disliked by the artist!

  107. Larry Ward says:

    Very timely article! I have the same frustrations regarding new music releases. Here in the states, the electronics chain Best Buy has completely discontinued carrying any cd releases. Now, they only carry vinyl. While vinyl is currently trendy once again, I very rarely buy any new vinyl releases. For me, the value just isn’t there. New vinyl is over priced. Why buy something just because it’s advertised as 180 gram vinyl? If I buy vinyl, I’ll stick to my local thrift stores. I refuse to repurchase the same vinyl lp that I bought forty or fifty years ago simply because it’s advertised as remastered and pressed on 180 gram vinyl. I still love cds and retail doesn’t seem too interested in marketing to people like me. Am I alone here?

    • Fred Holmes says:

      Your comments echo my views entirely other than I’m in the UK. Thanks for capturing what I and I expect others feel on this issue.

    • AlexKx says:

      Actually…they don’t carry vinyl anymore. It’s been a while since they have as well and on top of that they never had that much of a selection in the first place.

  108. Bruno says:

    Hi Paul – another excellent article. SDE readers are indeed a niche and comparing CD to vinyl is fighting the wrong battle. With the onslaught of streaming, record companies want the choice to be streaming or high margin vinyl for specialists. I don’t think the artists have much unless they are free of their record company like Radiohead. If the vinyl stops selling then it will just be streaming. Let’s face it both formats are endangered species and pitching them against each other just hastens the extinction. Soon we will be happy to have any physical format. That is why this website is so important as a focal point for lovers of physical product (be it cd or vinyl). Keep up the fight for physical vs streaming.

  109. miker says:

    Check out Japan Mini LP CDs. Creating the original cardboard covers, texture of the original LP sleeve , inner sleeve, inserts & the care put into the sound is amazing. Some are limited to a few thousand copies.

  110. John McCann says:

    Dear top gear,all cars Will be electric soon so I doubt that people are going to use their precious leccy on listening to music ,as they travel from exeter to visit their grandmother in Aberdeen,if they want to listen to music it will be back to a Walkman I would think,a in car cd player would drink electricity’,but I agree with paul CDs are great,my e class has a dashmounted cd that your feed 5cds in , great speaker’s,iv got a linn system at home,but this sounds just as good,get a 40year old Aston Martin lagonda if you want to play records in your car

    • blink says:

      An electrical car needs around 30 – 35 KwH for 100 miles. A radio needs maybe 10 watts per hour, that is 1/3000 of that. In other words, the electricity you use to drive 100 miles is equivalent to playing the radio for 4 months straight. So I would not resort to a walkman to help out the car battery…

      • John McCann says:

        A cd player would take a lot more leccy,radio is passive,so how many watts would it take to run a cd per hour,and wot if you’have a sub with the volume pumping as you visit your granny in Aberdeen, you’d be lucky to reach Birmingham, I was only joking about the walkman,, I think.

        • blink says:

          A CD player takes around 0.5 watts per hour, alarm clock radio players around 1, bigger radios up to 5. I was being generous when I said 10 above.

          Even if you would be right and it is more because you went all out on your sound system, it still means you can use your system for a month or two straight for the same amount of electricity it takes to drive 100 miles. In other words it still is a negligible amount of energy and you using a walkman to preserve it is still stupid.

          • John McCann says:

            Did I not say i was only joking about the Walkman,and i will probably pass on the in car alarm clock radio,but great insight into electric cars and their power consumption,now probably time to get back to making this a music website,cheers john.

  111. Pádraig Collins says:

    Brilliant article, Paul. You have very successfully nailed the dumb articles that are based around feelings, not facts. And your Steve Jobs/Apple/Microsoft analogy is a point very well made.

  112. Mike T says:

    Back in the day when I bought a new vinyl LP I always recorded the first play to cassette – thus preserving (in theory) it’s best ever play. Nowadays I do the same with vinyl. Some while ago I was listening to an album recorded from vinyl to cassette and then to MP3 and it sounded so much fuller than the CD version I also had. I loved the clarity of CD when they came out – somehow that love has gone. However for new music – if vinyl is a good deal/package and something I really want, I will buy it – but it is far easier to get the CD into the house. Much of what I want is only viable on CD – but Amazon Music HD has definitely made streaming of no top choice product more attractive.

    • blink says:

      Vinyl to cassette to mp3 sounding better than the CD ? Are you sure you are not mixing up the two ? The only way to explain it would be if the CD’s audio quality was intentionally degraded considerably by the manufacturer… there is no technical reason why the CD would sound any worse than the Vinyl, forget about the cassette and mp3 steps.

  113. Kieron says:

    I own thousands of CDs and still currently buy around 300 each year with about a third of that number being new music. The rest is a mixture of old music I’ve recently discovered and remaster/box set reissues replacements of albums I already own. As much as I like the idea of having a large vinyl collection, it’s just not as practical and more to the point, not affordable.
    What really annoys me is when new artists refuse to release their music on CD and just stick to vinyl and/or streaming. I currently have a number of albums on my wanted list in the hope that one day a CD will be released. A few times I’ve contacted the artist on the Internet and discovered that they do sell their albums, just not through the usual channels. Living in Luxembourg, Amazon is pretty much the only way to buy music in the physical format bar a vey small CD and vinyl selection in a couple of shops.

    I use Spotify for one reason only and that is to listen to certain albums once while I make up my mind whether or not I want to buy them. After that I’ll either buy the CD or never listen to the album again. As for portable listening, my collection is completely digitalised which took me years to do, I still prefer to use my iPods (yes, plural) at work where I can listen to music all day or in the car over streaming just because it feels like I’m listening to my own collection rather than somebody else’s. Uploading my new albums each week doesn’t feel like a chore as maintaining my CD collection is a hobby I enjoy very much.

  114. dazzler says:

    A very interesting read. Thank you, Paul. I have a lot of vinyl singles and albums, but they’re all original releases from 70′ and 80′ titles. I never buy new albums or rereleases on vinyl. I stick with the CD. I like deluxe editions with bonus material, covering the vinyl records in my collection. I will turn them into mp3’s and compile my own deluxe editions of my favourite albums or artists. So for each album I have the original vinyl release to caress, the remastered and expanded CD release to rip and the self arranged mp3 collection to listen to.

  115. Neil says:

    What a load of absolute rubbish. Sorry, but that’s what this piece is. The industry is NOT promoting vinyl over CD. There is not some sinister ‘campaign to get rid of CD and keep Vinyl’. The evidence, nasty stuff I know, points to the complete opposite. For any one article saying vinyl is cool, not better than CD, just cool, you can find fifty saying its crap, its a con, CD is miles better, its pointless buying it, its just a fad, only hipsters buy it, and so it goes on, and on. Please don’t make me prove it, as a quick google will show – I’m right. The reason the Record companies are not getting behind CD, and haven’t been for years, is they simply, as they didn’t with vinyl, don’t get enough profit out of it compared to streaming. Having worked in hifi and music sales, I have seen the margins on vinyl vs CD. No contest. CD was the way it was going to go, sound quality be damned. Downloads, once the majors had cornered the market, meant CD would go the same way. Now its obvious streaming has even bigger potential profits, Downloads have already started to dive in terms of sales. Anyone who thinks for a minute that the music biz is any way sentimental, or even vaguely interested in something as prosaic as ‘sound quality’ needs a reality check. Within a year of working within the industry I realised that idea was a bust. Anyone on here who thinks CD’s days are numbered because the ‘nasty record companies won’t promote their favourite physical medium’, be that vinyl, CD or whatever needs a good bump feeling. In reality, 25 million sales is drop in the ocean compared to CD’s heyday, and those sales have tumbled even faster than vinyls in the face of Digital downloads. Just as there was no point crying over vinyls demise, crying over CD’s is just as pointless and equally futile. The record business is utterly ruthless. What they want – you’ll get.

    • Wayne Klein says:

      All one has to do is see the delay in releasing CD sets or some albums that get reissues but don’t for CD.

      Paul’s article is on target-vinyl is far more profitable and that’s where the big marketing push has been.

      Streaming has, of course, eaten at the CD market as well. There are far more reissues coming on vinyl than CD.

      If you don’t see this move occurring, perhaps you’ve been living in a cave.

    • John McCann says:

      Neil you have proved something,and that is the fact that this site is not,, Pravda, Paul has allowed you to comment on something he feels differently about , what a load off absolute rubbish is probably not the best way to Go about it,but hey,ho,,,,i myself have seen the exact same articles as you , hipsters, vinyl is cool,ect ect,but I think the article was about how sales figures where minipulated,i might be wrongl

  116. mike says:

    i would NEVER buy a new car that doesn’t have a CD player in it.
    i love vinyl, i love CDS.
    haven’t bought a car in 5 years, and guarantee that if it doesn’t
    have a standard cd player, i won’t buy.

    • Julian says:

      I am exactly the same.

      A couple of years back, I asked the saleslady in Ford where’s the CD player and she replied it was a payable option to add in the glove compartment.

      I therefore still have my longest owned immaculate 2013 reg Ford Focus 1.1 ecoboost with 25k miles and combined DAB radio, CD player and integrated sat nav and rear parking camera…

      Additionally, cheap to run, tax and insure and also as someone who goes to many concerts in city centres, peace of mind it will not have been eye candy to car thieves during the night….

      • hamslice says:

        Just bought a new car, and was ok with App Connecting the phone to it for music.

        However, when opening the Glove, was very happily surprised to find a sneaky CD player!

        Now I make a habit of having a few CDs in the car that would never be on streaming services…..

  117. Keith Salmon says:

    None of this is new ,especially to us baby boomers .
    I am a music lover who was bought up when 78s and the Radio was the way we consumed music
    You were lucky if you could afford a Gramophone .
    I feel very privileged to have been around through every format and have a great respect for most of them.
    I love Vinyl ,I love cd,even the humble cassette has its place .
    In my opinion only a physical product can create that love .I also like quality sound .
    I have always had issues with poorly pressed Vinyl something that has gotten worse not better. The cd was going to be the answer but we all know it depends on how that cd was produced and the quality of the masters used. I am lucky most of my Vinyl are from the original master tapes of the day a lot of these masters now sadly lost or destroyed.Music is part of me . I could never imagine being without my Vinyl or Cds downloads would never have created that feeling .

  118. Christophe says:

    Hello Paul good point of view. Cd is still valuable. I ended up the 80 ‘s’ by giving away or sending vinyles and cassettes. I had a few pack of cds in the 92/95 years and since my collection has grown. I still by cds more often than vinyle and for my favorite artists i have both formats ( Joe Jackson Pink Floyd Porcupine tree Steven Wilson King crimson . . And the box set too.

  119. FrenchDuke79 says:

    Over the last couple of years, having worked with a majority of Millennials, I have come to the conclusion that the general public just don’t care about this at all. They care about the message not the medium. I’m 40 and mentioned two weeks ago that I bought a Cambridge Audio CD player and I got looks of bewilderment. Someone actually said “Nice! Old school!”. This is why cars have no CD players anymore. People generally don’t care that CDs exists still and as such they won’t bother to save them.

    Content is king but let’s face it, the kingdom is in tatters. What I believe we are seeing is the popular music art form itself dying. Because of this the volume of content lowers, the quality of content gets lower and therefore everything gets more and more disposable. That’s why streaming, for the general public, is perfect. It’s completely disposable. No commitment. No storage. No hassle.

    In regards to the CD vs Vinyl debate I believe that it really isn’t a big deal. I still buy a lot of music. It’s probably 60% old stuff and 40% new stuff. The old stuff is typically vinyl and box sets where as the new stuff is CD. The Vinyl resurgence is fun but let’s call it what it is. It’s the last gasp of an old industry that has always had problems coming to terms with progress. Its doing what it knows best, selling nostalgia while the barbarians are at the gates.

    My friends, if I may be so presumptuous, we’re scholars of a dying industry. I’m fine with that and I recommend you make your peace with it. Like a doomsday prepper, when the music apocalypse comes, I’ll be happy in my bunker playing my CDs, Vinyl, lossless DVDs and BluRays commenting how this lossless version of Lark’s Tongues is Aspic by King Crimson is “my personal favourite without doubt” as everyone else looks on like I’m mad.

    Let’s not bicker over the marketing nonsense of vinyl vs cd. Let’s enjoy what we’ve got while we have it because this only has one ultimate end.

    • CAB says:

      I agree with the thrust of your argument, apart from your sympathy with an industry that shot itself in the foot (then the head) in a desperate attempt to make mucho profit, mucho quickly.
      I’m afraid the industry didn’t have problems ‘coming to terms with progress’. It leapt into bed with what it considered progress – selling literally nothing for something in MP3 format – and in doing so it ditched a consumer legacy created over 4 or so decades.

      I remember the late 80’s very well. It was the industry that created its own downfall regarding recorded music by massively over pricing and over hyping the CD format to Yuppies and consciously destroying the legacy of vinyl at the same time. After over-priced CD’s came the streaming revolution. The industry worked very hard to reduce interest in tactile product and we were all encouraged to concentrate on the concept of a one stop music / video entertainment centre in the living room.

      • FrenchDuke79 says:

        Thanks CAB. I wouldn’t say I’m sympathetic with the industry and my comment about them coming to terms with progress was about their initial fight against MP3. I’m too young to remember the arrival of CD but I remember that point in the late 90s where for about three years they stonewalled the majority of CDs so you couldn’t use them in certain players in case you wanted to rip them. It was handled very badly. The pretence they made at that point of adding software so you could “Have an interactive experience“ was, in my opinion, laughable. Plenty of CDs had been mixed media without blocking the disc so it was a cynical move by the industry. I believe that this is what started the death of CD for the majority because people bought iPods en mass and got hugely frustrated. It was definitely a huge issue at the time.

        I also remember working in major retailers at that time and the markup on CDs was astonishing. The consumer was being ripped off and nothing was more apparent in that regard than the post Christmas mass reductions on music that had been released a month earlier. The public were being fleeced so I’m not surprised many abandoned it.

        I don’t want CD or any current physical format to die but with an industry that has behaved so badly at times and was so arrogant the general public just doesn’t care anymore. The industry continues to behave badly now. These days they are milking the art form rather than the medium and that too will have one end. The music industry really doesn’t care about music.

    • Peebu says:

      Probably the best reply I’ve seen so far

    • Foppo says:

      Well said, My man!

    • SimonH says:

      Lots of truth in this!

  120. John Martin says:

    Interesting article.

    I love records and whilst I can imagine thinning out my collection I could never imagine letting it go. I rarely buy or play records however due to purchase cost of records and kids toys blocking access to the turntable.

    I did buy half man half biscuits last album this week (great….thanks for asking)….on record but that was because it was on sale at Davids’s (fantastic record shop in letchworth) ……£10…..but the clincher was that the CD came with it which means I can play it in the car.

    Streaming is vital for checking out who to go and see at my local venues (Bedford Esquires….thanks for asking). Saw a band called dry cleaning last week….brilliant.

    Keep music live……now there’s another discussion!

  121. Hedley says:

    Excellent article and reflection Paul.

    SDE does feel a bit like a gang. I visit regularly, read the comments, growl in support of the comments not wanting mixed media, and troll thru the various amazon sites looking for that SDE I want but at a price that will amuse me.

    I travelled for many years through vinyl, pouring every available pound (which wasn’t much) as a bank clerk into albums and bootlegs. Today those albums are in boxes in the basement, neglected and unloved.

    Perhaps I am attracted to the SDE simply because the packaging replicates the album in size and art work. Whatever, I am not going back to vinyl and I will be waiting for that have to have bargain from amazon.de

    It’s a great club, thanks Paul and all your contributors

  122. Alan B says:

    I collect both vinyl and cds. The downside of cds is that I fear they will deteriorate over time and become unplayable. This has already happened with ones produced in the 80s and 90s. I have 2 Beatles cds bought early 90s and both are unplayable as they appear to have rotted. I read somewhere that vinyl will survive centuries if looked after properly. My Beatles cds were carefully stored and looked after

    • johneffay says:

      There was a specific issue with CDs manufactured by PDO in the ’80s/’90s whereby a fault in the process caused them to rot – initially bronzing, then developing patches & becoming unplayable. PDO acknowledged the problem & issued replacements free of charge if you contacted them, until they were bought out in in the early 2000s. I’m pretty sure your Beatles discs would have been from PDO.

      I had around 20 PDO discs replaced due to disc rot but, apart from them, have only seen it on CDRs. My CD collection hit 2000 in 1994, so I am talking about a lot of discs over a considerable period of time. I really don’t think that disc rot is that much of an issue. I’ve had more problems with mould on vinyl.

      • Carl says:

        I had a few of those and they were caused by the ink used on the booklet giving off a gas that eat into the plastic and oxidising the aluminium

    • Wayne Klein says:

      I have over 3000 CDs and have had 2 go bad. Now those pressed st the Swindon Factory did have issues but the majority have not.in fact, vinyl is about a likely to degrade but for different reasons.

      I’ve had vinyl that has been around for over 30 years and CDa that have exhibited no issues.

      • johneffay says:

        Hi Wayne

        The 20 which I had replaced is due to the fact that I used to buy a lot of stuff on the World Serpent label & all their CDs were made at that factory. Furthermore, given that most of these albums were already out of print, I wasn’t waiting until the sound was affected – I got replacements for everything which showed any sign whatsoever of bronzing. Given how things turned out after the buy-out, I’m very pleased that I did.

  123. Tim Goodacre says:

    Agree Paul. I collected vinyl for 30 plus years but switched to cds in the 80s. Love their clarity after years of putting up with the pops and crackles of my 10k plus vinyls! Now focus on the quality Japanese cds with their great packaging – if you want the artwork etc of vinyl try the Japanese releases especially the Japanese 7 inch CD sleeve releases. Just cannot understand the rush back to vinyl. Get a great CD/sacd player with a great DAC and you won’t go back.

  124. Jeremy says:

    Nice article, Paul. Call it a conspiracy or whatever but the main reason people buy fewer and fewer CDs is that it’s harder and harder to find a machine to play them on. Once CD players completely disappear from cars (they probably have already) there will be zero incentive for most people to buy them. If the record companies had any sense they’d do much more to promote the sale of cd players. With slightly higher CD prices (still well below vinyl) they could make good money.

  125. Wayne Olsen says:

    Unless you own a million dollar system, the preference for vinyl is emotional. I love LPs, but my heart stopped the first time I listened to my Love Over Gold and Wish You Were Here cds way back in gulp 1984. Most of the vinyl on Record Store Day are like baseball cards; a whole lot of fun to collect and treasure. If I was rich I’d have upgraded my 1980 Technics turntable and may think differently. The biggest bee in my bonnet is The Beach Boys 1968 being only download. Yeah, all the millennials want the Charlie Manson track.

  126. Nick says:

    Very good article and nice to read something rooted in fact rather than marketing nonsense. I have been on the planet long enough to have bought a lot of vinyl the first time which I still have. Through necessity I then moved to cds. I then ripped all those CDs to a server. Then started buying vinyl again solidly for two years. I’ve now reached a happy medium of only buying on vinyl if it’s a particularly well mastered record. I’m not interested in coloured vinyl. I’m interested in how the music sounds. I think it’s worth clarifying one thing about streaming – if you’ve ripped a cd to a server and play that through your hifi that is streaming. I think people do tend to think of streaming as only about Spotify, Tidal or Qobuz etc. IMO music still generally sounds better when listened to on your own physical format. Most streaming services compress the files. There are exceptions. Tidal’s ‘masters’ delivered in MQA format mostly sound great and close to or better than a ripped CD. A lot of stuff on Qobuz sounds great too. Spotify is only really good for your phone listening if you have anything approaching a decent hifi. So, my point is, horses for courses. If you’re a collector and love all the books and cardboard go ahead. If you’re mostly interested in the music long live the cd and listen to that or rip it. Or buy the best vinyl version you can find (usually MoFi, Analogue Productions, Nautilus, Blue Note etc) and spend A LOT of money on a turntable!

  127. Cornelius says:

    I read that 70% of new vinyl purchases don’t actually get played. It’s very much a collectable, retro thing. Maybe consumers buy vinyl but then stream music as well?

  128. blink says:

    I completely agree. I started out with Vinyl in the early 80s and moved to CD by the late 80s. I have no turntable and no intention of ever owning any Vinyl again. If a set comes with CD and Vinyl, I do not buy it.

    To me Vinyl makes no sense whatsoever, CDs sound better, are easier to handle and more convenient. There was a reason why it was phased out when the CD came.
    The only reason it now has a comeback is that record labels can sell it to some people for a lot of money, as a format it is inferior in every way.

    I am not subscribing to any streaming service and am not buying download files. If you want my money, you need to manufacture CDs. If record companies do not want to do that, fine, that is mostly their loss at this point, I have enough music to listen to for the rest of my life already – and new artists / music is not exactly something I am interested in buying a lot of anyway.

  129. Derek in Canada says:

    Thank for setting the record straight, Paul, for may of us who have been reading the (misleading) headlines about vinyl dominance with mistrust; we now know why. It all makes so much more sense.
    I also suspect much of the push for vinyl by the record companies may have to do with how (almost) no one will copy/rip music from vinyl, thus encouraging people to buy the same music again either by streaming, or by purchasing CD’s. “(Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ “).
    I’m also saddened by the fact the auto industry is abandoning the CD format. But even I, who has a huge CD/SACD/DVD-A/Blu-Ray Pure-Audio collection that I have been able to amass over the years, have to admit that when I purchased my latest (used) vehicle _because_ it had _both_ the in-dash CD player and a 6-disc CD changer in the truck(or “boot” as some may call it) – I quickly ripped a large portion of my collection from the dash player to the car’s hard drive and have been re-listening to my collection while driving. Unfortunately, after about 200 albums, I have now reached the limit of the hard drive and can’t rip any new albums without first deleting some recordings. I still buy CD’s but increasingly find it too hard to buy new music in that format and now find myself resorting to downloading single MP3 songs onto yet another, fourth format: the old Compact Flash(CF) card, for which the reader I also have in my car’s head unit, but have to admit that the quality is not as good as that ripped from my CDs.
    I now begin to dread the moment I will have to purchase a new(er) vehicle couple of years down the road, when I will have to either make do without the CD player, or have to rip the same collection all over again. …
    All this being said – let’s all keep fighting for the preservation of the physical formats.
    Thank you again, Paul, for leading the way!

  130. Jurg says:

    I buy second hand vinyl when albums, 12” singles are still not available on (good remastered) CD’s. When remastered right, CD’s sound fantastic. I only buy new vinyl releases when the price drops under 10 euro’s and most of the time I already have it on CD (together they make a SDE of the album).
    Streaming? Not for me. I need physicall product. A thought … how long before a hacker shuts down a streaming site? We depend too much on the internet.
    I still resell CD’s (because I bought a remastered version, box set, …). They only have value when unscratched. Like vinyl. Treat it with respect.
    A few years ago I saw the police pulling a car out of the water on tv. The car was ruined. They opened the door and found a CD of Tommy by The Who. It still played perfectly.

  131. Jeffrey Walsh says:

    Great seeing this issue addressed, loved vinyl for the nostalgia ride but tired of non fill, warpage and other faults it brings to the table . Lately I’ve bounced back to cd, much more reasonable and I need a digital copy for on the go listening. Pay per play is the goal here folks, sabotage a fine format that made them tons of money but also contributed to ease of online piracy sharing. Will never pay to stream, I’ve amassed a collection for ten lifetimes. Thanks Paul for a fine site, always enjoy checking in daily!

  132. Tom says:

    Thank you for a balanced look at the current situation. The pat write-off of CDs is nonsensical in my view. They can eliminate the players from cars but I will just buy a used one (car, that is).

  133. Matthew Baines says:

    I’ve been buying CDs since the beginning when they were expensive and usually mastered from tapes that weren’t original masters or even first generation tapes but at least they didn’t suffer from the surface noise that had blighted albums during the vinyl shortages in the 70’s. With the advent of surround sound and the developments in home cinema I have since expanded into music on DVDs and Blu-rays.

    The only regret I have it that music on CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays has been adversely affected by the record companies’ use of compression to suck the life out the music contained thereon. Even new download formats have been affected by this so it doesn’t matter how much you pay the old “Garbage in, garbage out” principle applies. For some reason this doesn’t seem to apply to vinyl but I have never been able to figure out why this should be apart from the limitations imposed by the physical properties involve in playing an LP and the extra monies generated. I do, however, object to buying a product that has been deliberately made to sound worse so that I may be forced to join the vinyl revolution.

    I’ve nothing against vinyl but I’ve never had equipment capable of demonstrating the famed extra warmth – instead I just get frustrated by the surface noise and the fact that each play downgrades the experience (by a slight extent admittedly). It’s not clear from the figures but I can’t imagine that much vinyl is being shifted in the classical market where CDs are still being produced without all the heavy compression applied to other genres.

    One of my major gripes with the vinyl “revival” is that I am being forced to buy it as part of packages that contain expanded versions that I am interested in (the Doors recent “Soft Parade” being my latest example). Not only is this forcing me to store this stuff but I’m also having to pay extra for the privilege.

    Luckily recent years have seen a revival in decent sound on CD courtesy of people like Steven Wilson and some engineers and labels that I can trust such as Mobile Fidelity and our own Michael Dutton with Vocalion.

    When it comes down to it you can see the attraction to the record companies of pushing vinyl when its profits are much greater than any of its rivals (except, maybe, downloads). After cassettes maybe they will revive mini-discs and possibly Edison cylinders to try and generate more niche sales.

    • granata says:

      “…each play downgrades the experience (by a slight extent admittedly”. Incorrect – for those who know what they’re doing. A quality and correctly set-up system will not degrade records in the slightest.
      My main beef with boxed sets that mix CDs and vinyl is how to store it. All together in the box? File the records in with the rest of the LPs? What if the CDs come in card slips or (worse) are clipped in some how. Aarrgghhh! 8-)

  134. Kevin Wollenweber says:

    With all this talk about what the fans think, I have to ask a question…what do the artists think of all this? I remember when the super deluxe box of all the Clash albums, including videos and live performances was released, and one of the band members was asked in a radio interview about his take on it, and he says “this was a mistake from the beginning…” That was a response I didn’t expect to hear, although I like the box set for being so thorough, including configuring the individual disks exactly the way a vinyl version is sequenced (in other words, SANDINISTA contains three CD’s whereas most CD copies shove all contents on only two disks). With Kate Bush showing little interest in “going down that hill” of her recorded history again, why not even ask the fans what they would really like to see regarding mass releases like that? Hey, it took that third party, the collector to interest Pete Townshend and the Who in a complete remix/remastering of their back catalog in the mid-1990’s, and that is a long involved story in and of itself. Clearly, the record companies cannot be counted on to know the history of each and every artist that they “control” and, all too often, the fan seems to know more than the record label or even the artist when it comes to big sets like those that are discussed. I, too, am always puzzled when I read that some recordings are released on only one format. It pains me not to have those Beatles Christmas message recordings, and now no one can own them because the platters sold out. I’m still waiting on a decision about that one, now that they’ve made their money on the collectable vinyl packages. I’m sure that fans will buy a CD or two with the messages or singles on them! I’m not trying to needle the artists involved here as it is probably very daunting and time-consuming for an artist to “relive” their entire history and assume that this or that rarety would be more desireable than others. The fans are the collectors and, most times, if they are consulted somehow via the same technological routes that allow for hacking and robbery of that same back catalog, the artist would have an idea of just what fans cherish about their music, and record companies would not be wasting X amount of dollars assuming what rareties should be tacked onto which album. Right now, quite honestly, I’m a big fan of these clamshell boxes with complete catalogs in them or complete runs of specific tours around artists that now like to record so many gigs. The “clamshell” edition allows the newcomers to specific artists a chance to hear how the vinyl version of an album sounded, without muddling up the experience with bonus tracks, sometimes wrongly chosen from materials meant for another album, and disks can be set aside with the bonus materials in proper chronological order. Instead of this ridiculous choice over which format to allow for the prime experience, how about just thinking hard about content and stop tweaking the recordings so much? Remixes are a nice experiment but, ultimately, I like to hear what the album sounded like, mistakes and all. Bob Dylan once railed against remixes of his recordings, saying that an album records the time and the place; I mean, why should every record now sound as if it were recorded recently? There were unique recording techniques in every era of recorded popular music, and the real collector is out to hear the music that way! If a remix is requested by artists like those of Genesis or the Who, I ask only that the original mix is bundled with it so I can hear the album as it was originally conceived. This is why mono was sometimes the preferred version of an album by some. I realize that many of you will disagree but I thought I’d throw these thoughts out there. As for preferred formats, well, I think the whole subject always leaves some consumers out, as I pointed out above with my thoughts on the Beatles recordings. I don’t ever feel that the “industry” can live on downloads, despite the fact that enjoying music seems to be a nitch concept these days. Obsessive music fans like myself will *NEVER* download, because they enjoy sifting through that unruly collection to find that lost treasure, if that lost treasure is available to begin with. At the rate people eat up and spit out their favorite pop tune of the moment, there would be no history left, and I guess that future artist will just live for the moment and have themselves forgotten in a few years, waking up to this horrible fact when no one shows up at their performances! I realize that we’ll never solve this, but I do hope all our comments are really taken into consideration when it comes to future releases or re-releases. These days, I like filling in blanks, and, so, I will be more reluctant to buy the umpteenth reissue of an album that had been issued only a few years ago, but I don’t want to cramp anyone’s career. I don’t own a turntable, so that leaves me out when it comes to vinyl releases. The rare packages that I’ve bought that includes vinyl will probably see the vinyl warp before I ever have the opportunity to play ’em, and I’m beginning to find that limited editions are too quickly bought up by money-hungry types who like to “scalp” collectors on ebay, raising the price on that collectable simply because it is now all sold out, thanks to them. This is not a proper way to run an industry!

  135. Gen X Curmudgeon says:

    Fool me once…I sold off all my vinyl – The Complete Buddy Holly, numerous Mobile Fidelity pressings, rare 12″ singles, et al in the early 90’s.

    Not going to get rid of my CD’s, curated and collected over 30 years, anytime soon. I’ve experienced too many hard drive crashes, operating system re-installs, lost usb cards, etc.

    Sad that I’d love to participate in Record Store Day but really so little of the titles are in CD format.

    • Wayne Klein says:

      I agree. While there are some vinyl titles I want, RSD becomes all about vinyl whereas, I’d love to see both issued. This is another way that the industry has catered to more expensive vinyl at the expense of those who also want CDs.

  136. Ken McCallum says:

    CDs for me are getting difficult to justify buying anymore. Nothing wrong with the format however 60% of my listening is in the car and now my new car has no CD player. It’s driven me to stream which for me is not prefered. Even my laptop has no CD player now so I can’t rip and transfer to my phone.
    I have always enjoyed physical media but just like the days when record companies killed vinyl and forced me to buy CDs for new releases I feel I am being pushed to stream.
    I called on a record plant back in the 80s as a sales person and they said the companies profits skyrocketed with CDs as they were cheaper to produce, less defectives and sold for more. I guess that’s why the format was dropped in 1989 in North America.
    Vinyl is a great format. I love dropping the needle every 20 min on a new side. I feel more engaged with my music when I pick it up select a side and view the album art. I have a good record player and enjoy the quality of a good record.
    There is a lot of bad pressings out there for new records. I do feel that they are improving in quality overall but I am lucky to have a large collection of original well cared for records. Amazon however is great at returns. I think I sent back 10 Blue Note 75 anniversary records. Not for the quality of the music rather the poor pressing. Too bad I really like those albums . The 80th versions are far superior.
    I am getting older and know that I am likely in the minority with finding joy in physical media. The world is evolving. When discussing CDs and DVDs with some younger people at a Christmas outing they laughed “who buys CDs?”. My kids who are mid 20s buy vinyl, but that could be having albums around when growing up.

  137. David B says:

    Excellent article Paul .. thank you for defending the humble cd .. i own about 3,000 of them and love the Japanese ones .. from SHM to SACD just incredible sound quality and then there’s the American company Dutton Vocallon who specialise in putting 70s quad records on SACD in surround sound and have released great sets by artists such as Art Garfunkel, Argent and hey Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes and only charge £14 for each cd … my query being why is no UK record company doing the same ie raising the quality of the cd instead of burying it .. just seems a shame … and lost opportunity ..

  138. Robert says:

    What will the record industry do when vinyl reaches its peak go back to 78’s!!! The record buyer keeps getting taken in with the next fad and being made to pay through the nose for it. At the end of the 70’s early 80’s vinyl was so poor as it was nearly impossible to buy a flat album that when CD was announced I bought into it straight away and never regretted it. I now have no vinyl apart from the Led Zeppelin deluxe sets and no turntable and no interest in buying one or streaming. It’s been so long since I have had to turn the album over to hear the end of the album that I would not go back to it now not along with the new way of expanding albums over 4 sides turning the album over every 12 minutes or so! Plus now they are selling you decent vinyl that they should have sold you years ago for at least twice the price. Record companies made a fortune out of us in the early years of CD and were too slow in seeing mp3 coming and were saying it was not fair but they ought to be grateful that know after years we are still here ready to buy CDs and know they want to phase them out because they can fleece the public again debuting their vinyl collections at high prices with doubts about even if they are mastered properly for vinyl on old titles. CD now sounds better than it ever did so please leave it alone to continue.

  139. Julian says:

    I could not agree more with you

  140. smorrissey says:

    Nice article Paul, glad to see some love for the CD and the real facts about the current format wars but please don’t you dare to post this on the SH forums cause you’re gonna be automatically banned lol.

    Personally i respect each person personally taste, for those who love vinyl fine by me, same for the CD and the rest of the formats. However i dislike the current misleading trend in some online articles and stores: vinyl is the new king again and let’s kill the useless CD…sigh.

    The ONLY new king right now is STREAMING whether some people like them or not.

    Personally i hate vinyl, before the cd format arrived i always prefered a cassette over a vinyl record. I started my music collection in 1991 thanks to the CD (Gen X guy here), however i’m aware both formats have currently advantages and disadvantages.
    The CD was the vinyl successor because all the advantages we all know about the second, however loudness war has damaged the CD a lot.

    Regarding the vinyl comeback for me is a stepback and will allways be just a niche and nostalgy, the format was already and almost died because their own disadvantages (hiss, more prone to scratches than a CD, small content on each side, size, etc. Even my 75 years old man got rid of all his vinyls when CD arrived, nowadays he only listen to streaming and mp3s files.

    Me? i can’t get rid of my cd collection just suddenly, this week i just bought an onkyo CS-375 to keep listening them and of course Apple music streaming. However i’m aware the CD format is dying each year a painful slow death… i can’t deny it.

    Yesterday i visited one of my local music stores here in Mexico City, what did i found at the entrance? an expensive brand new boom cassette player lol,, vinyl players and used iphones, then? the FUNKOS section wee!!!. At the middle of the store the vinyl section and a rack with the top ten on CD, and at the very end of the store the cd and blu-ray section (the less important for those chain stores). Sigh… what an utter mess.

  141. Jamez says:

    CDs all the way!

    One of the best arguments for CDs comes down to 2 words: “Double Fantasy”. Its easier to skip the Yoko tracks on a CD. (Sorry, Yoko fans!).

    • Cornelius says:

      As a Yoko Ono fan i find your comments very cheeky – true but cheeky.

      • Nico says:

        I still to this day can’t stop myself by refiling Yoko albums out of The Beatles 2nd hand vinyl section. Just saying she doesn’t belong there!

  142. Scott says:

    My CD reissue label licenses primarily from Universal music and they’ve just made huge changes for 2020. Previously here in USA, the majors did what are called ‘finished goods deals’, in which the fee we paid covered everything aside from mastering and artwork creation. But Universal just changed to a license only format, which means as a third party I will now have to pay publishing, manufacturing, master transfers, etc, individually. On the up side, projects will get cleared quicker and there will be fewer delays in production because I will be working directly with a manufacturer and no longer going through a ‘Production Coordinator’ who’s working on many things and either messes up or overlooks my projects. On the down side, publishing owners are not always easy to locate. There are one-stop shops like Harry Fox but not everything is there, and certainly not that obscure UK only B side I may want to include as a bonus track. So that is either going to make it harder for me, or I will simply not release certain songs if that info requires too much detective work.

    It’s probably true that this change is the majors moving further away from physical media. My previous Universal contact was the head of their reissue department. He is “no longer” with them as of the end of 2019 and now I’m working directly with the licensing department. But my CD reissue label just this weekend reissued our 9th release (Visage – The Anvil) in just under 2 years and the response has already been overwhelming, and it’s by far been my biggest first weekend. And with two more CD reissues coming next week, some of us are doing our part to keep the format alive. And as long as at least some of the majors continue to license their vast catalogs in one way or another, I plan to continue to keep the CD format alive, and it seems my ever-growing customer base are onboard as well. My label’s slogan is ‘Keep Physical Media Alive!’

  143. Chris S says:

    I have no interest in “streaming” music.
    I expect sooner or later, it will become like “streaming” TV, where you will need to subscribe to multiple services with selective content.
    If it’s not on CD, I will take a pass on all.

    • Nancy says:

      @Chris S: Totally agree with you! I too somewhat predict that music streaming services will become like the “streaming” TV ones, where you will require subscription to multiple services with selective content. Don’t even dare think about YouTube, where a lot of music audio and video content has been removed due to copyright issues especially the ones related to various regions over the last 10 or so years. That is one of the main reasons why I’m still buying music DVDs with promo video and concert footage.
      I understand that Blu-ray has superior picture quality to DVD but I stayed on DVD for sentimental reasons and am more biased to it.
      If some of the streaming services goes off I’ll still have physical media to watch and listen to. I don’t need an Internet connection if the Internet goes off by some accident as well to listen to CDs and LPs or watch DVDs and Blu-rays at all either. Anything can happen.
      I’m handing over to downloading and streaming services only if I can’t find that particular record on physical media or is too expensive to buy on it.
      Downloading and streaming services are good as a reference.
      Give me the real thing anytime!

  144. Adrian Slatcher says:

    The record Industry handed over the living room years ago so lots of people don’t even have a way of playing CDs now. The big audio manufacturers have very small and often expensive range of CD players now and most laptops don’t even bother with a drive now. The CD can be packaged nicely (e.g. other than cheap jewel cases) and can include things easier than other formats (e.g. the recent Burial double CD of rare singles) but often isn’t. I never understand the releas of 2 near identical CDs, a special edition and normal edition, where just the packaging and price is different. Unless I’m a massive fan I will probably buy the cheaper one given the option (so don’t give me the option!) Good reissue series se a thing of the past. I liked the Elton John, Bowie and Zappa reussues with a uniform look, and deluxe editions from the Cure and Pavement for instance. Now there are real bloated album boxes or just cheap things. I tend to buy small bands and indie bands on vinyl more mainstream stuff on CD, and back catalogue on both if I see second hand

  145. Alan says:

    Yep, agree totally.

    I like the convenience of CDs. You can own a physical product and also download it into iTunes to put onto a device. My entire music collection is on my phone and there is no way I am ever going to use a streaming service to listen to music I already own.

    Vinyl is nice. Coloured vinyl still seems like a novelty, and picture discs also. I like to see original artwork re-created (not dodgy scans!) in the format they were designed for. I have a fair amount of modern vinyl but it’s all unplayed – I’ll also have it all on CD.

    I can see why vinyl is promoted, as the music industry is ripping off buyers in the only way they still can. It’s hideously priced compared to when CDs first came out. In those days you could buy the vinyl for £5 while the CD would be about £12 (then a lot more money than it is now). It’s now been reversed so that the CD is sold for next-to-nothing while the vinyl is a £20 somewhat luxury item.

    I have hope. The deaths of both vinyl and cassette were predicted (and seemingly pushed for by the industry) for so long but vinyl survived. I don’t get why cassettes have been revived but it proves people like nostalgia. When CD seemingly nears its demise, it might suddenly get a stay of execution (although the industry might decide to bring prices closer to vinyl).

    • Wayne C says:

      Interesting comments, I also collect vinyl and every brand new record and box set of vinyl I’ve bought in the past 8 years I haven’t played (like you), although I also buy the CD at the same time if I don’t already own it. I guess you could call me a record collector now. The only problem I guess with
      my approach is if anything is wrong with any of those I’ve
      Bought then it’s far to late to do anything about it. As
      I never open them it makes little difference!. I guess I just like looking at the covers nowadays!. I’m sure there are a lot of folk like me who had many of the albums back in the day and have just re purchased titles they remember first time around?.

  146. Nancy says:

    Brilliant article, Paul!
    I’m buying both formats, CD and vinyl but listening to the former more often because of its convenience and smaller size as it requires less space in the room to collect.
    But I understand that vinyl has more natural and widespread sound and there’s that bigger artwork as well.
    Never been such big fan of digital audio downloads and audio streamings as I like to own my stuff on some concrete and compact physical media and don’t depend on various download and streaming sites’ policies as their owners can decide to take some or all the content off them for many various reasons whenever they want. There’s always possibility of hacking too. Safe is safe!
    Also I like that my favourite musicians get some money and support from me as well.
    I’ll never ever stop buying physical media – CDs, vinyl and DVDs in my case.
    There’s nothing better and more beautiful than owning your music!
    Something has to be preserved for the future generations too!

  147. Michael McA says:

    It’s just another way of getting people to spend money – to help the economy I imagine.

    When CD’s first came out in the 80’s I resisted switching from vinyl and it was only in 1993 when I couldn’t get Kate Bush’s The Red Shoes on vinyl that I bought my first CD. I have since re-bought my whole record collection on CD – some albums a number of times what with special editions and remasters and all that.

    I’ll be damned if I go back to vinyl again.

    It’s just poncey snobbery – all this vinyl nonsense – taking people for idiots.

  148. stupidactingsmart says:

    I started as a consumer of music on vinyl and cassette in the late 80s and only graduated to CD in 1999. I now have far more CDs than vinyl and it’s still my preferred format, but it seems like a dying medium to me. I wonder if it will need to almost completely fade but could then have its own vinyl-style resurgence as a nostalgic style accessory.

    Walking down Byres Road in Glasgow just a couple of hours ago I noticed Fopp had signs in saying it’s closing down. The latest in many signs of the times, I think, though in that case for physical media as a whole (DVDs etc. too).

  149. Richard Palmer says:

    Although I agree with almost everything in the article, I do think that removing CD players from cars was a sensible move. I’ve owned two cars now without CD slots and not missed them at all, finding it much easier to use the SD card facility. With 128GB of music available to me it’s not as if I’m ever going to run out, but even if I do want to play something that isn’t on the card it’s simplicity itself to swap it over for another card that has another set of tracks on it. And surely it’s much safer to carry a small memory card about than take expensive CDs in and out of the house, with the risk of loss or damage? Not to mention the dangers of attempting to change discs while driving on long trips.

    Of course there’s also the question of sound quality to consider, but if you’re driving around busy town centres or on motorways, with all the resulting road and traffic noise, who is going to be able to tell the difference between a CD and a well made MP3?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      My view on this is that I’m glad the days of ripping CDs into your computer, syncing audio to devices and all that bollocks has long gone. I also don’t really want to faff around with SD cards, or have to fiddle around with my phone turn on bluetooth etc. etc. to listen to music. Apart from streaming from Spotify on my phone four train journeys and in the house sometimes, I’m glad computers now have NOTHING much to do with any of my music consumption. In general, I buy CDs, and play them. I buy vinyl and play records. I like grabbing a handful of CDs from the shelf and ‘committing’ to them for whatever the car journey is. My car doesn’t have bluetooth but I can connect an old iPod via the ‘aux’ socket. But even that is rubbish. I’ve had 160g iPods in the past and no one ever knows what to play!!

      • What? Prince? Worry? says:

        “I’m glad the days of ripping CDs into your computer, syncing audio to devices and all that bollocks has long gone”

        I think that’s a wee bit unfair Paul, as I still do that, all my collection is digital now and I’m happy that way.

        I have mentioned before a couple of times I lost all my massive vinyl collection to a flood. That was devastating, and I never went near physical product again for about 5 years. I never replaced my vinyl, so instead with help of close friends (when they gave me ripped FLAC CD’s on CD-R’s) I started to replace everything I had. I buy CD often and vinyl sometime if it isn’t on CD and meticulously restore them to remove clicks/pops. According to your article people want the clicks and pops? I did laugh, so that means I have to go to a charity shop and pick up scratched vinyl to listen to the authentic sound?

        Incidentally many years ago I did balk at the price of vinyl that some charity shops were selling, ABBA greatest hits from the mid 70’s, rather common I would say, for £45, because it was a gimmick and it must be collectable, right? (and it was battered and scratched to death).

        What gets me, I was picking up vinyl in the 2000’s for nowt, mostly mint and imported from the States (as the P+P back then was ridiculously low), I was guilty of having shrink wrapped LP’s to collect and marvel at, then it was all gone, washed away, never to be enjoyed.

        Today’s vinyl, isn’t that just from data files stored on a hard-drive?, and art work scanned? charging £20-50. They saw you coming, is all I say.

        Don’t get me started on CD’s limited by an LP press on new box sets, wasting space on CD.

        Saying CD is dying is like the movie studios saying sod blu ray and 4K as it’s a dying art, and lets go back to VHS, because of the nostalgic rose tinted view of chewed tapes and bad tracking.

        I could never understand why movies are streamed but people do via Netflix, but music can’t be streamed as that’s sacrilege and destroying the physical format? Isn’t using Netflix (other platforms are available) killing the physical format of blu ray/DVD?

        Which raises the question, why are box sets still insisting on DVD’s when blu ray is vastly superior? What next, the new Prince box set with a range of flexi’s, cassettes and a VHS cassette? Music on blu ray, is a trick sadly not utilized well, unless your’e called XTC. Technology moves on, I get the idea of going backwards to embrace some past technology, but at the best of times it’s best to move forward? You wouldn’t buy a car with an 8 track player, but then again I don’t see the logic in USB or blu tooth ports as standard in cars, or a car with a wind up handle.

        I never stream films at all but prefer the physical blu ray. Tit for tat, then again I like all aspects of music, whatever floats your boat in the end, we are all music and film fans, so whatever format suits you is fine, but let’s not alienate one from the other, in the end it’s all business and money, well apart from the ludicrous Bowie boxes last year LOL.

  150. Gisabun says:

    I have some vinyls. I kept some of the more “special” ones when I migrated from vinyl to CDs.
    Recent releases [and re-releases] have labels releasing what was on a single LP to 2 LPs. And sometimes at 45 RPM. Personally, I don’t feel like getting up every 12-15 minutes to flip over a LP. I don’t mind a 2 LP with the 4th side etched, blank or whatever.
    2 LPs also tends to increase the price of the vinyl. Vinyls right now are way expensive compared to when vinyls ruled. A vinyl that cost me $15 then is probably $25 or more now.
    Yes. Vinyl quality has improved but at what cost?

  151. Tony says:

    I am getting a new VW Golf, I wouldn’t have got one if a CD player wasn’t an option, streaming is generally ok in a car but can’t beat a CD. Last CD box sets for me were The Police box at £15, Bowie Conversation Piece at £70 & Prince 1999 at £55, the pricing seems inconsistent across labels. I think the CD format has a lot of life, but the pricing has got to be right.
    Sainsbury’s at Slough sell a lot of CDs, I also think it’s a golden age for picking up CDs from charity shops.

  152. Andrew Hapeman says:

    Great article!
    CD’s all the way for me! Used to buy vinyl back when that was the only format. When the CD came out, I never looked back. Occasionally I’ll buy a vinyl as a novelty to put on the shelf…unopened. Outside of that it’s CD or nothing. No digital, either.
    I just don’t get the record companies! Imagine if they released all the record store day vinyls on CD as well….they’d make a killing!
    Silly record company!

  153. Michael says:

    I’ve been buying records again, but really only for the large graphics and heftiness, which makes the album feel more important, but also buy the CD of same album because it has pristine sound, never wears out (if you don’t abuse it), and it’s much more convenient to play.

    Given that, I hope the record industry will realize the viability of continuing the compact disc, and perhaps expand the production of more discs in SACD, DVD-A and Blu-ray. This way we have the best sound quality to excite our ears, but if the record industry also offered larger, more elaborate CD packaging, it would also excite our eyes, and make for the perfect physical music product for collectors like me.

  154. SimonH says:

    Something worth bearing in mind: these figures don’t take into account the secondhand market which I suspect is pretty substantial both in terms of vinyl and cd.

  155. art says:

    for me, it’s simple. i buy vinyl for favorite classic rock and pop, cds for classical and instrumental music and stream to explore music that i don’t need to own. cds also have an advantage in that they can hold up to 80 minutes so one can just chill with them, while with vinyl, you have to flip sides every 15-20 minutes. most modern cds are well-mastered and sound good. even better sounding are surround sound blu-ray audio disc.

    i think all the formats have their place.

  156. LeeUK says:

    Cassettes being a blip and manipulation? Isn’t this down to consumer choice? Why be negative towards another physical format? I consume my music how I see fit and what suits me, it’s about choice and there is more now than there ever has been, win win. It’s what gets you excited about a release, obviously the music first otherwise you even pay it any attention but after that it’s about tangibility, what is pleasing to you. Whether it’s hum, snap and crackle, hiss or clinical digital, the choice is yours. For years vinyl disappeared, it wasn’t available, so to have sites and celebration days dedicated to it is joyful.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Cassettes aren’t about consumer choice, because most of them are part of bundles or a box set and the consumer isn’t ‘choosing’ specifically to buy a tape. If there really was a boom in people choosing to listen to music via cassettes there would be a boom in cassette players hitting the market, and there isn’t. To summarise, vinyl and CDs are genuine ways to consume music in 2020, cassettes aren’t.

      • Alan Blevin says:

        Fantastic article Paul.CD’s are such a fantastic format for the consumer I find it hard to see the logic of the disdain some people have for them.I ad a vinyl collection of 1400+ albums which I sold 20 years ago and have never regretted it once.
        The elitism and greater profit margins are driving vinyl from consumer and label sides.The declining growth of vinyl sales probably reflect a ceiling for a niche product.
        As for cassettes.The National released what looks like a fantastic live album for Black Friday last year.Covers multiple shows and would have filled 3 cds.It was cassette only!This is just contempt for fans.

  157. Ray says:

    Funny thing is, if the CD does die anytime soon, then in 10-20 years from now there’ll be a movement to revive them for nostalgic reasons (as with Vinyl and cassette) it comes full circle. I love my CDs and still want re-issues etc on physical CD disc!

  158. Colin says:

    Thanks Paul for a great article which sums up many of my own feelings on the matter. As someone who buys both cd and vinyl it is the physicality of the format which appeals over streaming, as well as the opportunity in box sets to get rareities. But when it comes to vinyl vs cd, the sheer cost of vinyl too often deters (especially box sets and the ABB release sums this up perfectly). One other niggle though from someone who plays cds is the packaging of blu ray audio discs in with cd box sets. Why, why why? Am i alone in having a decent quality cd player which cannot play these discs? Makes Pink Floyd’s ‘Later Years’ an almost complete waste for me – much as I would love to have the cds, I simply cannot justify paying that amount for multiple unplayable discs.

  159. Dave R says:

    Paul, excellent article. As an avid record collector since the mid 70s, I was only forced into giving up on vinyl when the industry gave up on the format and therefore the only way of getting the physical product was to give in and become a CD buyer (which coincided in being given a Sony Discman). As a consequence, over the next thirty odd years I have acquired CD copies of many of the albums I already had on vinyl and been heavily involved in the reissue on CD of records that had never previously been available on the format. Of course, there are still hundreds of releases still crying out for a first-time release on CD.
    I refuse to go down the download route, but I equally refuse to go back to vinyl. I find vinyl so ridiculously over-priced and why buy a reissue for £30 or more when a decent second hand copy of an original pressing could be had for a fiver?
    By the way, I would love to know what these RSD CD only projects are too!

  160. David says:

    I always think it’s funny that people believe records provide better sound than CDs. To put the audio signal from the master tape onto a record, the low bass has to be rolled off and the dynamic range compressed. Not only that, but the closer the stylus gets to the center of the record, the more challenging it is to make the audio sound good (this is because the rotational speed of the record is constant no matter where the stylus is, limiting the length of groove to reproduce the music, unlike a CD who’s rotational speed varies with the location of the laser).

    And, audio from CDs has lower noise floor, greater dynamic range,and greater stereo separation than records. Plus, CDs are more durable than records.

  161. BRENEZ Alain says:

    Opposing CD’s and vinyl is bloody stupid, we should defend both. I’m buying both formats these days. More vinyl albums indeed than CD’s as vinyl today is more fun and special than CD’s. Sound is not better, it’s different. I have some albums on both formats. Record labels are criminals, they are fully responsible for the decline of the CD, keeping it an expensive format after almost 40 years. Here in Belgium the difference in price between a CD and a vinyl is about 2 to 3 euros, price of vinyl in the UK is ridiculous. I used to have a Spotify subscription but stopped it as I wasn’t using it that often. My car still has a CD player but maybe the next one won’t. So what’s the future? More and more large shops will stop selling music, only the independent record shops will continue selling hopefully both formats but I would rather purchase my CD’s or vinyl albums directly from the artists, either at their gigs or on their web site.

    • mike says:

      I am not sure CDs are more durable than Vinyl. I have a number of CDs now that are unplayable and there is a YouTube / Tomorrow’s World episode that said they had 30 years lifespan – I suspect that will turn out to be hogwash and most will last longer but I think Vinyl will always be playable as long as it is cared for.

      By the way I am a CD preferik and the view that vinyl is everything infuriates me, but the music industry is doing what it always does and is taking the shortest route to the biggest margins, that comes come from new represses of vinyl albums they have sold several times before! There is no doubt 2019 saw a lot less CD SDEs though, I worry.

  162. Steve W says:

    In total agreement with you.

    Music fans are being manipulated into buying formats by hype and the continued efforts to limit manufacture to mostly two areas, vinyl & streaming/download.
    As you have said, the hype is one-sided and widespread, I’ve made many an angry post on Twitter or FB about the disparity of reporting and have at times had a similarly angry response back!

    I’ve had people tell me – “vinyl is the true analogue form of music, how music should be heard, – in it’s pure analogue form”
    They seem to overlook the fact that new albums are mostly recorded to hard disk then mixed and mastered via software, the analogue is already lost! Same for reissues, even if the source is from tape, the minute a master is created to hard disk file and/or had software intervention, the analogue ‘purity’ is spoilt!

    There seems to have been a complete listening enjoyment u-turn with regard to the vinyl pops and clicks that CD eliminated (it’s main usp when it was first around – alongside it’s er, ‘indestructability’… oops!) I find that u-turn a bit strange as added pops and clicks must surely be a step backwards for the listener and not really the stuff of modern flagship physical music media that an industry should rely on (but what do I know?!)

    Perhaps the time of the music collector is soon to be over, those of us who choose to fill up shelf space (or rooms!) with albums, singles, sleeves, booklets etc. slowly being cast aside by the actual music industry itself who insist on pushing files from limited databases and a reliance on playlists rather than album formats and our only engagement with the artists work being the renting of their releases and squinting at a JPG sleeve representation on a device screen.

  163. paul cutts says:

    A very interesting article that essentially underlines everything I believe these days about buying and enjoying music
    I started my huge collection of music back in 1972 when I was 15 and purchased my first single, T.Rex’s Telegram Sam, since then I have amassed thousands upon thousands of LP’s and Cd’s and continue to do so on a regular basis much to the chagrin of my family.
    I spend maybe a couple hundred quid on music a month because music is my life these days more so than ever due to all sorts of reasons mostly because I am feeling my age and can’t do much else.
    My family see it different, my sons say why don’t you just stream music on Spotify/Amazon for £10.00 a month but I just could not do it.
    The whole point about my collection is that it is mine, not borrowed and at the whim of some publisher/copyright owner taking it away at any given time and it is just much more than the actual music.
    I have treasured vinyl albums from the seventies that I just love holding in my hands and looking at but at the same I would be more inclined to listen to the latest remastered CD version whilst enjoying the tactile entity.
    I do however purchase digital music from the leading outlets but only sometimes because it is usually cheaper and easier to find and purchase and always back it up digitally.
    I have over the last few years tried to replace a great many classic albums on vinyl that I stupidly let go when CD’s came along as did many of us of a certain age so maybe that will be a factor in vinyl making a comeback.
    However to sum up my feeling on the subject just the other night upon see the posting about The Allman Brothers Box on SDE things at home became rather uncomfortable for me when I announced with excitement that I am going to go for the Vinyl set and the CD set costing well over £425.00.
    My wife and eldest son could not understand why I would want such a thing and for about an hour I was subjected to psychological abuse that upset me but I still ordered the sets because they mean so much to me.

    • Quante says:

      Dear Paul Cutts,

      Please take the advice of your wife and son and don’t purchase the vinyl set of The Allman Brothers just yet. The price is crazy. The price will drop if you can resist and wait it out.

      I understand both your excitement about a release like this and the endorphin rush that triggers the urge to purchase, but take a rain check and realise that the music industry that pushes these prices is taking the micky out of you, their loyal customer.

      Good luck.

      • paul cutts says:

        You are of course so very right,but and this is a big BUT I don’t feel I have long left and want to enjoy something stupidly expensive and tactile before it is too late. The Allmans is where i went to next after T.Rex and The Beatles/Stones back in the early seventies , why I cannot remember but it just was and I loved them ever since.
        So for me at any rate this is essential whatever the cost.

  164. Jules(Rules) says:

    ““sturdy” vinyl because CDs get “easily scratched”!”

    Wow Paul, I’m shaking my head in disbelief…

    Do you really mean “ensured”?

    Anyroad, I agree with virtually all of this. My personal pet peeve remains the mixture of CD/DVD/BD and vinyl formats in box sets, what a pain in the proverbial.

  165. Brice says:

    I bought vinyls and CDs but now, I ‘m disappointed by the quality of vinyls. Too much issues…In Europe, GZvinyl is horrible : Background noise, marks on vinyls, digital sound,…At these prices, I can’t accept anymore this quality ! Sundazed, Friday Music, Music on Vinyl,…They say vinyls for audiophiles from originals source but I’m not sure about that. And I don’t speak about Amazon when covers arrive with corners bend or Boxset endommaged. So except Vinyl of Rhino (a real label of quality ! a lot of their vinyls are pressed at RTI), I stop to buy vinyls, too much problems. And I return to CDs. With CDs, no issues, Bonus tracks,…And it’s sad because I have a lot of vinyls and I like this format. Ok to pay the price for vinyls but quality before please !

  166. Roland K. says:

    The CD collector has to swallow a lot. I’m used to bands releasing cd’s with LESS tracks than at their vinyl album and even releasing sometimes only at vinyl (something e.g. Nick Cave did both) and I have been the victim of box sets with cds AND vinyl why you have to give away the half of your expensive purchasements, but I have also to live with ecery year more cheap looking cd albums.

    What to think about… digisleeves. You know, these things you got 10 years ago for free with a music magazine… these thinks from which your discs is dropping out very easily… That al for saving some cents by ignoring the existence of great jewel case by which cd collectors can easily read the titles in their cd cabinets and which you can replace easily when a parts of it is possibly broken….

  167. AndyHaines says:

    This will roll on for a while yet. I’ve no interest in streaming music. I like the physical item. I’ve lived with vinyl all my music buying life and it’s still my favourite medium by which to listen to my music, even with it’s inherent issues. I have about 200 + CDs which I’ve slimmed down a bit. I’ve sold off stuff in both CD & vinyl that I don’t play to fund buying stuff I do!
    I record onto CD what I want to listen to in the car. The cost and in some cases the lack of quality control of new vinyl is a lottery. Recently I’ve attempted three times to get the Mark Hollis album. All three were poor pressings and or damaged. The same with Art of Noise. Took four goes to get that right. Also, buying second hand can be risky.
    The ridiculous cost of some vinyl releases is beyond my pocket. Early & Later Years by Pink Floyd are stupid prices and not well thought out in terms of what is included /excluded in terms of media or content. Jean Michel Jarre Oxygene Trilogy vinyl is expensive so a cheap CD version was purchased! Kate Bush remastered sets started at hugely inflated cost, but soon came down to more realistic prices and with discount codes they were a more affordable option, (except box 3).
    I have read a few comments about people buying vinyl, without ever owning a deck or even considering buying one. These are the people record companies are aiming at, those with more money than sense. Like buying fine wine and never drinking it. ” Oh yes, this bottle was made using the best grape harvest ever with a fantastic palette” Really? Well drink the bloody thing then!
    The industry will continue to falsify and manipulate the figures to say what they want them to. It’ll be a sad day when the high street will only have cafes with download points at the tables instead of proper music shops, whatever medium they sell. And don’t get me started on the farce that is “Record Store Day”.

  168. Paul says:

    Spot on, Paul

    I’m still waiting for the 8-track tape revival.

  169. DaveM says:

    Brilliant article Paul. Just arrived home after a car journey sound tracked by Van Morrison’s Beautiful Vision, an eighties Polydor CD I picked up the other week and it sounded stunning (fortunately my six year old Ford has a CD player). I would never go back to vinyl and CD will always be my preferred format. Streaming holds no interest whatsoever.
    One thing that gets me about this push for vinyl is the BBC are at it, ironically on digital stations WTF, and along with their push on sustainability, I just don’t get it. Vinyl not only gets deteriorated each time you play it (unless you have a high end turntable) making it unlistenable when it ends up in the charity shop or wherever and then the inevitable land fill toxicity, once the fad is over.

  170. AkickUPthe80s says:

    I got a new car a couple of months ago and, much to my disappointment, it doesn’t have a CD player. I have gotten so much enjoyment from buying physical music for over 40 years, it pains me to not be able to play CD’s in my car. I do have a Spotify subscription, and a phone full of music files, but I still wish that I had the option to play CD’s in my car…the place where I listened to them the most.

    What I have noticed since getting the new car is that I’m buying less CD’s now. I’ll probably only buy physical albums by artists that I already have a collection by already, or albums that I really like. I do buy vinyl too…coloured vinyl is a big temptation.

    I get really frustrated by the perception that “nobody buys CD’s anymore” but, that perception is understandable from the press articles quoted in your feature. I wonder which supermarket will be the first to ditch the format completely? My nearest HMV store (Glasgow Braehead) has just been saved from closure for the first time (the poor staff!).

    The music industry never seems to learn from it’s mistakes.

    • John McCann says:

      The poor staff,,,dont think so mate,they where made redundant and giving a decent pay off, and rehired a week later,I know people who work their,worked out great for them.

  171. SimonP says:

    There’s only one reason why vinyl sales are bigger than CD. It’s because vinyl costs 3 times the price! I’d always choose CD over vinyl since becoming a reasonably early adopter in 1985, but do still buy the occasional bit of black plastic, usually when it involves something unavailable on CD.

    I’m gonna squeeze in a recommendation while I’m here because I’ve mentioned prices above and recently had my gast flabbered. I discovered a 2018 album on Spotify (other streaming platforms are available) called When It Falls by Rachel Eckroth and thought it was very good. I always try to buy stuff I find and like whilst streaming, but this album was hard to track down. Her official store was the only place I could find it on CD (it’s not even listed on Discogs). Price: $45! It’s 60 bucks on vinyl, though…

  172. Otto says:

    I guess “streamed” isn’t the same as “sold” money wise, is it? A song on the radio also brings in money (I think even more than being streamed by 1 person). but that also never was into sales numbers (or was it?).
    As a collector of physical music (and games, and comics, and movies) I know I’m going extinct until a sonburst messes up the computers and I still have a lot of entertainment during the apocalypse. And I hope the media industry still will see us collectors as a serious client in the future.

  173. Mike says:

    There’s an episode of Slate’s Hit Parade podcast that looks at the time in the 90s when record labels tried to force music fans in the US to buy albums, as they pushed massive radio singles that never got released on CD single. Only somewhat related, but a very good listen.


  174. Mark Jensen says:

    Great points made in this article. Another common way cd’s are currently being marginalized is for the vinyl version to be mastered more dynamically with less limiting than the cd version. As if they need to bolster the idea that vinyl sounds better by intentionally making the cd sound worse. The Beatles remasters and remixes are particularly guilty of this ridiculous behavior – the vinyl and hi-res Blu-ray versions really do sound noticeably better than the cd, but it’s not because of format, but just because of a specific decision to put the cd out with inferior mastering. I find this particularly upsetting.

    • JT says:

      Crippling CD’s like that is manipulative behavior by record companies and should be made widely known. We as consumers should punish the culprits and demand an end to it.

  175. martin farnworth says:

    Vinyl records to outsell CD’s in 40 years(?) In 1979 when CD’s where the more popular format despite being a few years before they reached the general public and only just been invented. ridiculous.
    the omission of CD’s from cars feels a bit like a conspiracy. or at least being dictated too – forced to move with the times or made to feel antiquated or marginalised . people saying “no one buys cd’s anymore” but hasn’t been in HMV for years to see thousands of titles still present.

    • andrew R says:

      My wifes car has no cd player and when i asked the salesman he commented
      “no sir it has a hard drive that you can store 20000 tracks on .I downloaded 500 tracks for her on to a usb uploaded to car and… that’s all she has ever listened to three years on. When we had a cd player they would periodically get changed as new ones were acquired . That now never happens . More or less choice?

      • martin farnworth says:

        The simple answer would be less choice- otherwise both options would be available in your wife’s car. I recently bought two new album releases purely because I wanted something new to listen to in my own car. Meanwhile I still (a little bit) resent driving a work’s van with no CD player. As I have mainly been buying vinyl in the last few years it made me think more how easily influenced i may have been by it’s arguable superiority over CDs.

  176. Reed says:

    A great read. Being a baby boomer, I insist on owning physical copies of things I love. While I no longer have a turntable, I still have all of my vinyl from back in the day. I love the feel of holding an LP and for the graphics that are easy to see and read. Well done, Paul.

  177. Tyler Rutt says:

    Great insights- I think the record company is using the vinyl “revival” mostly to manufacture collectibles and sell and resell the same albums again and again- I lost count of how many different colored vinyl versions there are of some LPs and UMG seems to be the biggest offender. Record Store Day is useless unless you want to buy a gimmicky version of music that’s probably already out there. I notice a lot of CD packaging getting chintzy too. For a USA-based music fan as myself, I’d be missing out on a lot of great reissues by labels like Cherry Red and Ace if they were suddenly to become download only.

    • Roman says:

      I was delighted when I bought my first cd player and this will be my favorite way to listen to music for my last decades hopefully. The crackle of vinyl still annoys me and I won’t go down that road again. Vinyl haD more warmth and especially more punch at least into the 2000s. My top choice the last decade are live blurays or Audio only Blurays. The latter always put a smile to my face on listening sessions. Streaming is for background music but not for a real commitment to a musical work.

  178. James (from Canada) says:

    We saw similar trends in Canada and the narrative in the press is the same: vinyl sales are through the roof and CDs are on a rapid decline. Here are the 2019 numbers in Canada, a country of 36 million people. Album sales: 6,334,538 (CDs, vinyl, and cassettes) which is a 22.3% drop from 2018. Of these, CDs accounted for 5,349,257 sales, which is a 25.7% drop from 2018, but also means that CDs still account for 84.4% of all physical sales. Vinyl sales increased 3.1% to 973,891 pieces of new vinyl which accounts to 15.4% of all physical sales.

    So yes, in Canada vinyl sales are slightly increasing and CD sales are decreasing, but CDs still account for a much higher proportion of physical sales.

    And digital sales are seeing a steeper decline. Digital album sales were down 24% while digital tracks sales were down 28%.

    In Canada, streaming is king. But for those who want to own their music, they still want to own CDs.

  179. Tim-Meh says:

    I have to admit I’ve had endless fun buying old albums on CD for next to nothing online in recent years. Back in the day I could never afford everything I wanted so the perceived redundant format that some believe the CD to be suits me just fine. This week I got hold of two Thelonious Monster albums for next to nothing (the p&p cost more than the discs). Remember these being about £15 each on import when they originally released which was pricey and not that affordable when I was a student. The drop in value has actually reignited the fun in searching out rarities.

  180. Glen says:

    The Canadian band Sloan have released several vinyl SDE releases of their albums & I have every single one of them yet I don’t own a turntable. Never will. I buy them because I like the band & there’s lots of extras inside the box to keep obsessive fans like myself happy & occupied. It also helps the their SDE’s come with remastered digital downloads that I can play of my phone, computer, etc.

    The compact disc is my prefered choice for consuming music because of the sound quality, versatility, & price.

    The problem I see over the next decade is where will we buy cds or vinyl albums when fewer stores like BestBuy & WalMart even stock them.

  181. RJS says:

    Good article. It’s come full circle and it’s all down to money. The labels just want people to keep buying the same music over and over and there’s a lot more profit to be made from vinyl. There’ll be a CD revival again in a few years where you can buy the re-re-re-remastered versions of your favourite albums yet again.

  182. SimonH says:

    Excellent article.
    The reality is that the ‘vinyl revival’ is assumed to make for a good news story, cd is just uncool retro to most people sadly!
    I’m using streaming now but I don’t feel any passion for it, so CDs remain my main focus for the albums that really matter to me.
    I refuse to simply licence my music, and anyway I quite like swimming against the prevailing tide:)

  183. Steven Roberts says:

    In the short term CDs are in decline, whilst vinyl in the ascendancy…but in the long term both formats are on the way OUT – at least for the mainstream, which will continue its adoption of streaming.

    Certainly, niche media formats (SACD, CD, LP, even the humble MC) will continue for the foreseeable…there will always be a small number who want that sense of propriety (“to hold the music in their hands”!).

    But for the majority of people, convenience wins-out over quality.

    And cost-free triumphs over cost-ly.

  184. Eric says:

    I remember one 2018 rsd cd release by Excelsior records in the netherlands, i.e. Unsung heroes by Anne soldaat and yorick van noorden. I had to ask my record seller because he wasn’t planning to order it.
    Concerning the cd/vinyl issue, I have to admit i bought simulation theory by muse on cd with all songs from the super deluxe edition in Russia because there still is no cd release (I have 3 regular cds of this one, because we went to see the tour and I own the deluxe edition). I love vinyl, but I also live cds. The same for pearl jam unplugged: I bought it on RSD Black Friday 2019, but I own a more complete recording on illegal cd. Hello record industry? Where are you?

  185. Daniel Wyszogrodzki says:

    Hi, Paul – waht a lovely gift on my birthday today :-) I lost most of my vinyl collection during a divorce years ago (not that anyone’s been listening to them ever since), so I had to build up my CD collection from scratch. I own over 10 000 CDs now (a two-floor study) and friends who visit my house call it “a museum” – due to the digitalization of the content. But I’m quite attached to my “CD museum” and the article you posted today proves me right. Once a collector always a collector and I’m definitely not ready for all of the non-physical formats… Cheers to you!

  186. garax says:

    I’m not sure there is much to be gained for collectors of music in attacking one format to big up another – which ever it may be.

    The one thing I do know is I really don’t have a use for box sets that have vinyl AND cd – that’s just nuts to me and the reason I won’t but the new Supergrass boxset even though I really want those (very expensive indeed second hand) vinyl albums.

    I except that vinyl is, essentially, a sonic fetish – but it’s the one thing that has caused me, after years of shuffling everything – to listen to albums all the way through again – and appreciate them as a work of well considered art.

  187. Pete Stevens says:

    A well argued and thoughtful observation.Nothing,especially the outrageous prices in HMV will persuade me to go back to vinyl.I remember the scratches and torn sleeves on new vinyl back in the day.Also one is able to house more cds than vinyl in the average home. just love music and personally won’t be streaming as I still like to possess product

  188. Simon says:

    Well I just bought a fantastic new cd, The Anvil by Visage from Scott@rubellan.
    Great article Paul.

    • John McCann says:

      I remember buying the anvil on ferric oxide from h.m.v.in Union street Glasgow when it came out,damned dont cry still a great song,its a shame how the face of the 80s ended up,watched the documentry on him about ten years ago,very sad, but also sad that midge ure is looked on in minor terms when we think of 80s artists,he wrote some amazing songs.

    • Deanery says:

      Simon I read your post re Visage/Anvil and went right to Rubellan…

    • Carl says:

      Me too, if it`s as good as the first will be in for a treat.

  189. Andrew Aston says:

    Unforgivable that there was no push to maintain CD players in cars. I like vinyl and cd but the reason I happily switched to cds when they came out was my frustration with quality control around vinyl records.

    It was great when both formats lived side by side again but now the price of vinyl is increasing and prohibitive in some cases. I also see quality issues popping up again.

    I hope individual artists will keep releasing cd product themselves. If record companies don’t want to hopefully artists (who get little from streaming) can make some money by selling their own product.

    I am happier going to a gig, showing some appreciation to the artists and buying directly from them rather than using the likes of Amazon – when they don’t see skipping Birmingham as an option on their tours (which sadly a number of artists, especially US artists) do these days.

  190. Stephen Nash says:

    I bang on here regularly about campaigning for the CD. It’s considerably better value for money, a lot cheaper, way more tracks, better sleeve notes & these days wonderful sound. Vinyl can only offer the same original 12/14 tracks just re-branded as a limited edition (which is where RSD create their “excitement” element) but it’s essentially aimed at the collector’s market, it certainly sounds no better than modern CD’s & if vinyl sounds so good, why do they try to sell it as re-mastered, why would it need re-mastering? 30 years ago the industry tried to kill off vinyl with the CD but now (mainly due the market driven by RSD & the fact these collectors will pay anything in the name of the limited edition) the industry is trying to kill off the CD as vinyl is more profitable. I have no interest in buying vinyl at £20/25 a go, if CD goes then the music market has lost a serious buyer as I’m not going anywhere near vinyl or MP3. There is room in the market for all formats, vinyl for the collectors, CD for people that actually want more music (I would have thought that would have been most music fans but clearly not) & MP3 for the remainder that are not interested in tangible formats.
    Edit or delete this

    • Neil says:

      “the industry is trying to kill off the CD as vinyl is more profitable.” Is it? Really? The margins on CD vastly outweigh vinyl and nothing has changed. Please don’t make statements that are clearly untrue. As for CD has better sound quality than vinyl these days, again, really? One of the primary reasons people buy vinyl over CD is the CD will sound considerably worse in the majority of new releases. Not because vinyl is better than CD (it isn’t) but because the CD will have been brickwalled within an inch of its life. The other primary reason for buying old vinyl over CD re-issues is also simple – the CD will have been taken from a 40 (50) year old tape, ‘if’, you’re lucky. One of the many big laughs I get is when so called audiophiles claim ‘early CD pressings are the best’. Really? Discs mastered from metal parts, vinyl rips, late generation masters, and done so quickly and badly they are out of phase, channels reversed, etc? CD’s ‘Golden age’ was the 90’s when quality remaster, non brickwalled discs came out, and before the loudness wars started. CD started its lingering death (bar some superb Masters done by smaller labels) as soon as the compression madness began.

  191. Ben says:

    It’d be good if HMV started selling fancy looking CD players, or turntables with a CD player wouldn’t it?

  192. Marc K. says:

    To be honest, I didn’t buy many cd’s last year, making a big exception for the ‘absolute value for money’ The Police box, being a long time fan and collector.
    However I buy vinyl, both new and second hand. I love the sound, I love to read the covers/lyrics and enjoy collecting. My big problem with new vinyl is that it is way too expensive. If new vinyl would be cheaper, I would buy a lot more probably. That’s where SDE comes in……happy to come here every day for the latest bargains. Tnnx Paul for your numbers and thoughts

  193. andrew R says:

    I find myself buying the vinyl version because spending the money on the cd version
    is economic madness . Should you want to sell them they are valueless and in most cases
    unsaleable. Very often the packaging of the vinyl is superior and any booklet included is so large it is readable . Finally as a collector one is aware that the vinyl is always limited in terms of units
    which adds to its collectability . The down side is that most new vinyl can be badly pressed
    and from digital files, which makes a nonsense of its supposed warmth. Having read what i have written it’s difficult not to think that i am as guilty as the rest, in having accepted the message that cd’s are inferior and a dead format with little or no thought . Lastly this from a vendor writing in Vinyl monthly “Cd’s, i wont have them in the shop, they are a dead format vinyl has won !”

    • RJS says:

      “…spending the money on the cd version is economic madness. Should you want to sell them they are valueless and in most cases unsaleable.”

      Unless you’re a dealer, why is the re-sale value an issue? I can understand considering the re-sale value when buying a house or even a car, but a CD?!

      • andrew R says:

        Unless you are very lucky space is an issue . I sometimes have to thin my collection out . That is why future value is of interest . Vinyl retains a high collect ability factor and holds price accordingly. CD as I pointed out is nearly impossible to give away in most cases . I do however agree that as less are produced this might change

      • Robert Claxton says:


        I agree with your observation – CDs are being given away or being dumped but hold on ….. Try buying the Woodstock 38 CD set. Available in a limited global run of 1969 units. Now commanding a 200% premium on its cost price. Not everyone has lost interest in CDs. There will always be needles in the haystack if you look hard enough.


        All credit to you and SDE for your “save the CD” campaign. However, for CDs to have a future, manufacturers will require a surge in demand for up-market and mid-priced CD players capable of playing SACD, SHM and all the other Japanese format CDs. I’d happily buy a second CD player if I could find a well priced CD player capable of playing the Japanese format CDs.

        A bit of promotion of quality CD players would be a welcome sight on SDE.
        Buying great music in CD or vinyl is a life-long hobby. Like you, I will continue to buy either format depending on content (and sometimes on both formats). However I can readily locate great turntables but I can’t find suitable CD players (really sad in my view).
        Mind you my 7 month old hybrid Toyota Camry has a CD player (Toyota is the world’s leading MV manufacturer so bear that in mind when next buying a car).

        General Observation – We’re spoiled for choice

        I continue to be amazed at the choices we have and am shocked at the number (and diversity) of new vinyl releases in low production runs.

        CD and vinyl re-releases (in great numbers) are also truly welcome. All the great LPs of the past are being given a fresh life (many in expanded form). What can be wrong with that? yes it would be great if more could be re-released on CD as well as vinyl but I’m still grateful for the vinyl re-releases.

        • RJS says:

          Robert Claxton: You misattributed a quote in my comment to me!

        • Tonk says:

          Hi – ANY CD player will play SHM or Blu-Spec 2 (et al) discs as they are just more highly spec’d versions of the bog standard CD.
          SACDs need a SACD player – you can still buy new ones.

    • SimonH says:

      You are wrong re CDs not becoming valuable. Check Discogs.com. Many CDs now are only issued in limited numbers and soon rise in value.

      • Wayne C says:

        I must also disagree, I’ve just bought the Kraftwerk – The Catalogue 8 cd box set and quite happily paid £100 for it. So some cds are maintaining and increasing in value. I last year sold my Prince Crystal Ball 4 CD box set for over £100. Admitted you can go in any charity shop and pick up Lighthouse Family (most albums) for 50p or Madonna’s Ray of Light / Music for that amount (I’ve lost count of how times
        I see such albums at 50p). But some cds are incredibly collectible so before giving them away thinking they are worthless i’d re evaluate !!.

  194. KISS73 says:

    Great article. Great to see some support of the CD. I am from the vinyl era but switched to CD in the late 80’s and would never dream of going back to vinyl.

    I am someone who, if you don’t release it on CD I simply don’t buy (or rent) it. This means I have ignored recent releases from artists who are major staples in my collection including Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel. It must be said it does save me quite a bit of money, but can’t fathom how that supports the industry.

  195. Andy Peake says:

    A great read, fully agree with everything you’ve said, Paul.

    I hate the way we are constantly told what we need by teams of marketing people, it’s totally obvious to anyone with just a small degree of intelligence that they tell us we need whatever will make them the most money, not necessarily what’s best for us.

    On the subject of CD players in cars, I fear that my choice of new car in the next year or two will be severely limited because I’m only interested in a car with a CD player.

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