The CD is Still a Good Part of the Purchased Music Market

by Paul Cashmere, Noise11

Once again stories about the death of the CD have been grossly exaggerated. A study of this week’s Australian Top 10 ARIA album chart by The Noise Network shows that most fans prefer the physical format over streams and downloads.

Three 40+ year old Top 10 artists, Pete Murray, The Beatles and Roger Waters, understandably generated a high percentage of physical sales. However, the format of choice for pop based Ed Sheeran and Harry Styles and alt-rock Alt-J and All Time Low fans was also the CD.

50% of purchasers for Ed Sheeran’s Divide album were for the CD/LP format last week. 30% bought the album as a download and only 20% of sales came from fans who streamed the album.

56% of Harry Styles fans bought the physical disc ahead of download (24%) and streams (18%). (ARIA started including streaming in its chart figures in May, 2017).

There was only one exception in the Top 10 in favour of streams. 52% of Kendrick Lamar's Damn sales were based on streaming, while CD was 26% and downloads 22%.

If we go back 15 years to when Napster was the thing, rap acts traditionally were the most pirated acts. It seems rap fans still loath paying for music but will toss a few bucks Spotify’s way these days to get their tunes.

Ed Sheeran’s earlier 2014 album, X, was mainly sold as a download (36%) followed by streams (35%) and 29% sold as a physical disc. The sales for the three-year old X album were fueled by his major tour announcement and were not a high volume stock in the Warner warehouse at the time of the announcement.

The telling factor in this breakdown is the figures for Alt-J and All Time Low. Both fan-bases sit within the 20-39 demographic yet both favour CD sales ahead of downloads and streams.

Here is how this weeks Australian Top 10 albums breaks down by format:

1. Ed Sheeran – Divide
  • 30% download
  • 20% stream
  • 50% CD
2. Halsey – Hopeless Fountain Kingdom
  • 47% download
  • 15% streams
  • 38% CD
3. Pete Murray – Camacho
  • 36% download
  • 2% streams
  • 62% CD
4. Alt-J – Relaxer
  • 44% download
  • 10% streams
  • 46% CD
5. All Time Low – Last Young Renegade
  • 34% download
  • 6% streams
  • 40% CD
6. The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper
  • 11% download
  • 2% streams
  • 83% CD
7. Roger Waters – Is This The Life We Really Want
  • 20% download
  • 1% streams
  • 79% CD
8. Harry Styles – Harry Styles
  • 24% download
  • 18% streams
  • 56% CD
9. Kendrick Lamar – Damn
  • 22% download
  • 52% streams
  • 26% CD
10. Ed Sheeran – X
  • 36% download
  • 35% streams
  • 29% CD


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