Josh Steinberg

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I really don't think that's it.

If the average consumer was still interested in CDs, but just frustrated with purchasing CDs at Walmart and Best Buy, then we wouldn't be seeing massive declines in that format, we'd just be seeing those sales shift from one retailer to another. But the decline has been much more than Walmart and Best Buy eliminating most of their CD racks in store. Dedicated music stores are pretty much extinct. They're extinct because people aren't buying that product anymore.

I have had all of my CDs in storage since 2011. I just don't have the room to display them, and I have all of the content from those discs on my computer in a quality that meets or exceeds my needs. I miss having easy access to the artwork, and I hope one day to have room to display them, but it turns out that not having a physical CD in my possession has had basically zero impact on the quantity of music I listen to. I've been ripping my CDs to my computer and playing them that way since about 2003.

The other day, I noticed that Paul Simon had a new album out, and since I'm seeing him in concert at the end of the week, I decided I wanted to hear the new album before the show. I ordered the CD from Amazon, and it was about $12, and I had to wait two or three days for it to arrive. I then ripped the CD to my computer. Instead of doing that, I could have purchased the album on iTunes for $10 and had it that instant. I spent an extra $2 to have a physical copy delivered that I would rip once and then put in storage. It's a habit I haven't broken yet. But I'm very obviously in a minority when it comes to that. For most people, "paying more money and waiting more time to have access to the same thing" is not the winning formula. I'm probably already two steps behind of where everyone else is. Here I am, comparing buying the physical CD vs. buying the digital download, when most people have moved away from buying altogether. For less than the cost of this one album, I could have paid for a month or a couple months of a subscription service that would have let me listen to almost every album ever made for almost nothing. So why am I spending $12 on an album when I could spend $5 a month to have unlimited access to all recorded music?

People started moving away from CDs because it was no longer the cheapest or most convenient way for them to enjoy their music. And as people started moving away from buying CDs, stores started stocking less of them, and stopped caring about how well versed their employees were in products that were no longer important to the business.
 

Malcolm R

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People started moving away from CDs because it was no longer the cheapest or most convenient way for them to enjoy their music. And as people started moving away from buying CDs, stores started stocking less of them, and stopped caring about how well versed their employees were in products that were no longer important to the business.
I also think today's audiences care less about artists than about songs. They may like a song by an artist, but they don't necessarily want to buy an entire album of songs by that same artist. And another percentage of those that might buy one album may not necessarily buy a follow-up album. There's not much loyalty to artists these days. I think that's why the subscription streaming model seems to be taking over. People seem to be more interested in songs and genres than specific artists.

It wasn't that long ago when a new album release by a popular artist was a major event. Today it's kind of a ho-hum affair.
 

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I also think today's audiences care less about artists than about songs. They may like a song by an artist, but they don't necessarily want to buy an entire album of songs by that same artist. And another percentage of those that might buy one album may not necessarily buy a follow-up album. There's not much loyalty to artists these days. I think that's why the subscription streaming model seems to be taking over. People seem to be more interested in songs and genres than specific artists.
This isn't a new or recent thing.

I remember the coutless albums (on vinyl, cd, cassette, 8-track, etc ...) I had which had only one or two good songs, while the rest of the album was largely mediocre "filler" or outright junk.

It was quite rare to find albums where I thought every song was excellent.
 

Josh Steinberg

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That sorta makes sense to me given that we've gone from a system where you had to buy a group of 10 or 12 songs to get the 1 song that you knew and were looking for, to a system where you can just buy that 1 song on its own.

It's really hard out there for artists to make money from their recordings. The average consumer doesn't feel that they should have to pay for the big single, because it's already streaming for free on the artist's website, on digital radio stations, on YouTube, etc. I imagine the customer is thinking, "Why should I pay $1 for this song when I can just go to YouTube or Spotify and play it there for free?" And if you can't get the average consumer to pay $1 for a song they already know they like, what chance is there that you can get them to pay $10 for additional songs that they don't even know?

I think it's not too dissimilar to where the movie industry is these days. Nowadays, the mass audience comes out in full force only for proven properties where they know in advance that they will like it. In practice this means sequels and adaptations are the big money makers, while the mid-level budget movie has basically disappeared. There's super low budget stuff, and there's really high budget stuff, and almost nothing in between. It's the same for music. Easy enough to promote a popular single, hard to get anyone to commit to the full album.
 
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jcroy

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Frequently the best songs on the album on vinyl back in the day, were typically the first or second tracks on side1 or the first track on side 2.
 
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Malcolm R

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This isn't a new or recent thing.

I remember the coutless albums (on vinyl, cd, cassette, 8-track, etc ...) I had which had only one or two good songs, while the rest of the album was largely mediocre "filler" or outright junk.

It was quite rare to find albums where I thought every song was excellent.
I'd agree that there are few albums where every song is excellent, but it's been my experience over the years that there are often songs on the album that are better than the singles doled out to radio by the labels. Many artists' biggest hits are seldom their best songs, IMO.

Still, with today's digital downloads, you can sample all the songs on the album and just buy those you like, rather than having to buy the whole album.
 

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I really don't think that's it.

If the average consumer was still interested in CDs, but just frustrated with purchasing CDs at Walmart and Best Buy, then we wouldn't be seeing massive declines in that format, we'd just be seeing those sales shift from one retailer to another. But the decline has been much more than Walmart and Best Buy eliminating most of their CD racks in store. Dedicated music stores are pretty much extinct. They're extinct because people aren't buying that product anymore.

I have had all of my CDs in storage since 2011. I just don't have the room to display them, and I have all of the content from those discs on my computer in a quality that meets or exceeds my needs. I miss having easy access to the artwork, and I hope one day to have room to display them, but it turns out that not having a physical CD in my possession has had basically zero impact on the quantity of music I listen to. I've been ripping my CDs to my computer and playing them that way since about 2003.

The other day, I noticed that Paul Simon had a new album out, and since I'm seeing him in concert at the end of the week, I decided I wanted to hear the new album before the show. I ordered the CD from Amazon, and it was about $12, and I had to wait two or three days for it to arrive. I then ripped the CD to my computer. Instead of doing that, I could have purchased the album on iTunes for $10 and had it that instant. I spent an extra $2 to have a physical copy delivered that I would rip once and then put in storage. It's a habit I haven't broken yet. But I'm very obviously in a minority when it comes to that. For most people, "paying more money and waiting more time to have access to the same thing" is not the winning formula. I'm probably already two steps behind of where everyone else is. Here I am, comparing buying the physical CD vs. buying the digital download, when most people have moved away from buying altogether. For less than the cost of this one album, I could have paid for a month or a couple months of a subscription service that would have let me listen to almost every album ever made for almost nothing. So why am I spending $12 on an album when I could spend $5 a month to have unlimited access to all recorded music?

People started moving away from CDs because it was no longer the cheapest or most convenient way for them to enjoy their music. And as people started moving away from buying CDs, stores started stocking less of them, and stopped caring about how well versed their employees were in products that were no longer important to the business.
I think I got an answer. People like vinyl so we'll go that way. And we'll only give them the good songs. To do that we'll make small records with a single song on each side. We can call them 45's.:D
 

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I listen almost exclusively to Broadway OC recordings. These are not a series of random songs, but a connected whole that is played in order as it follows the story. Because of this, random downloads have no value for me. Any time I have downloaded an album from i-Tunes I have burned it to disc and made a booklet.
 

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If I were 20 or 30 years younger, I'm sure I'd be streaming all my music and not caring. But I grew up in a time when the music experience was something much different than it is today. Pop songs aren't really written or performed anymore... they're produced, often by a computer program that enables them to be as similar as possible to other hit songs without being copyright violations. Music now is a commodity, not an art form.

And yes... it's more about the song now than the artist. One recent #1 hit is credited to "DJ Khaled featuring Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper & Lil Wayne." Each song now has like a dozen listed songwriters and several different producers.

Hard to imagine kids going up to their friends and saying, "Hey, did you get the new album by DJ Khaled featuring Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper & Lil Wayne?" Albums are really a function of the artist. There are still some rock and hip-hop artists putting out albums that function as artistic statements and not just as collections of songs, and those are probably what's keeping the format on life support.

At this point, the only thing that might save physical media is greed by the companies who provide our internet and phone connections. As streaming continues to grow, and streamed files become better and better quality (and therefore larger and larger), ISP's will find it more tempting to start metering bandwidth usage and charging accordingly. The end of net neutrality, and the fact that most people have no choice of broadband ISP means they will get away with it. People might find that physical media becomes more cost-effective than streaming. Especially for things like UHD video.
 

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Perhaps customers at Walmart and Best Buy would have bought more CDs over the years if the people working there wern’t hired specifically for their lack of knowledge of movies and music!

Walmart has always been completely hopeless. The people working in the department have never heard of music.

Best Buy — customer asks for a new CD of a kind of music not played on the radio — clerk looks puzzled and it is obvious he has never heard of it — “I’ll look it up on the computer” he says — computer says they have 10 copies — clerk still can’t find any.

Even if they hired to most knowledgeable musical salespeople (or movie aficionados) it would make zero impact. People just don't want to spend $15-20 on a cd anymore when they just like 1 song. They can now just sign up for a free Spotify or Pandora account on their phones that have unlimited data and just stream the tunes they want to hear or sample.

The days of having a music or movie "expert" salesperson are LONG gone. Decades ago actually.
 

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The days of having a music or movie "expert" salesperson are LONG gone. Decades ago actually.
I remember these movie "experts" started to disappear when the mom/pop video rental places were closing or turned into blockbuster or "hollywood video" (or another chain) outlets.

By the time blockbuster and other large video rental store chains were around, the movie "experts" were largely gone and replaced with clueless high school or college students working part time. (Sometime in the mid 1990s or so).
 

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If I were 20 or 30 years younger, I'm sure I'd be streaming all my music and not caring. But I grew up in a time when the music experience was something much different than it is today.
Same here.

If I was 20 or 30 years younger, I probably too would be listening to everything on streaming or youtube. No point in wasting cash on cds or vinyl records.
 

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I'm mid 50's and haven't bought a cd in years nor a physical disc of a movie. I've been streaming for probably 4 years now and don't regret the switch at all. It's actually been a blessing in disguise. Using Spotify and Pandora has opened me up to a MUCH bigger world of music than I'd ever be able to accomplish with CD's. And it only cost me like $8 a month to have MILLIONS of songs at my finger tips.

Wasting $10-15 for just ONE artists cd for one or two decent songs to me is a huge waste of my money at this point in life. I was guilty of buying numerous cd's before the streaming thing hit and I hate looking back at how much money I wasted. Most cd's had one tune on it that I enjoyed and the disc ended up soon in a box in the attic.

Age should not play a factor at all in wanting to enjoy listening to music via a different method. First we played records, then 8 track, then cassettes, then CD's, and now I moved on to streaming and the catalog of songs is massive compared to all the previous collections I had compiled.
 

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Looking at Spotify and Pandora today and I see quite a bit of all of those, especially soundtracks and classical stuff.

Both services have way more genres available than just pop or similar top hits.
 

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The problem with me for Broadway is that only the most popular are streamed. I have been buying broadway shows in various formats since the 1960s, and have them all. Those that were never put on CD, I converted myself. Not at all to brag, because who cares but me, but I have a greater library in this area than the Siris Satellite Broadway radio station.

I also would never flip on a music feed and have it play in the background. I have never been a casual listener. When I listen to music, I LISTEN to music.
 

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STREAMING ISN’T EVERYTHING, AND BLU-RAYS ARE BACK TO PROVE IT - Brian Raftery - 12.12.18

https://www.wired.com/story/blu-ray-resurgence-collectors/
I will always prefer a disc, simply because that is [in my mind] the only way I can truly own the content without a middleman. I do begrudgingly acknowledge there will likely be a very steep decline in availability of physical media in the not too distant future.
 
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