Compact disc

Billboard Archives Diving – Billboard

Old formats never die – they just spin again. Compact disc sales first overtook vinyl in 1987, but CDs have been slipping for nearly 20 years, eclipsed by downloads and then streaming. But hang on to those CD rides: In 2021, new releases from Adele, BTS and Taylor Swift drove record sales up 1.1% in the first annual increase since 2004, according to Luminate, formerly MRC. Data. Could a future ‘CD Store Day’ trigger a possible comeback?

Laser focused – on the money

“According to insiders, Sony’s launch of its Compact Disc digital audio system within the next year will be unprecedented in consumer electronics history in terms of mega advertising and promotional dollars,” the report reported. February 13, 1982, Billboard. However, the big bucks weren’t just for ad campaigns. Early CD players cost around $750, or about $2,100 in today’s inflation-adjusted dollars, or about the cost of 17 years of Spotify.

My digital romance

More affordable models were introduced the following year, and the October 1, 1983 issue stated that Sony would launch a $470 player “aimed at fans of ‘man-in-the-street’ audio rather than hi-fi enthusiasts. top of the line. .” October 22 Billboard details Sony’s “A Date With Digital” campaign to target young consumers. Among the prompts: “an index search feature designed to help the user locate a specific undercoded portion of a classic long move.” Swoon!

Never mind the bullshit, here comes Gustav Holst

Early adopters don’t always have the hippest taste. On October 29, 1983, Billboard cited a survey of 137 stores that found classical music accounted for 74% of CD sales, followed by pop at 21%. PolyGram revealed that its “most popular titles” were the soundtracks of chariots of fire and notorietyas well as a recording by Gustav Holst The planets. “We know who will buy the player,” said a PolyGram executive in the June 19, 1982, issue, “and it’s not people who will buy punk.”

The farewell of the long box

It took years to standardize CD packaging. In the issue of March 7, 1992, Billboard reported that the six major label groups ultimately settled on CD-sized packaging, a decision that “seals the coffin of the infamously long 6-by-12-inch cardboard box”. However, not everyone shone with the jewelry case. ” It’s scandalous. The longbox is a good anti-theft package,” said a record store owner. “Plus, I’m going to have to buy new devices.” Russ Solomon of Tower Records was also angry. “We’re dealing with people called ‘costumes,'” he said in the March 28, 1992, issue, “and costumes don’t speak the same language as us.”

Sales freeze

Over the past two decades, Billboard followed the decline of the format. “CD Sales Drop Precipitously and Digital Sales Continue to Accelerate”, according to the December 22, 2007 issue. On December 20, 2008, Billboard reported that most retailers had “plans to reduce CD floor space in the new year”. A Californian record store owner fought cooling sales with frozen treats: “I can make a 50% markup on ice cream, while on CDs I can lose two bucks.”

This story originally appeared in the March 26, 2022 issue of Billboard.