Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Why Are Music Sales Dropping? Because It’s Hard to Buy Music

Digital is the future, but analog is the present. Which is why CD sales remain the biggest revenue driver for the music business. But big-box retailers, who sell almost all of the industry’s discs, are determined to change that, by relentlessly cutting back on the amount of floorspace they allocate to CDs.

Latest example: Borders Group (BGP), the struggling book chain, has cut its music inventory by 30 percent in the last year, the company said. Music now occupies about seven percent of its floorspace, and the space it used to take up has been given over to higher-margin products like children’s books.

Borders makes up a relatively small portion of U.S. music sales, but most big retailers have been doing the same thing for more than a year. If you don’t believe me, try to find the CD section next time you visit a Target (TGT) or Best Buy (BBY) this month.

The big stores will embrace individual albums–if they have an exclusive, like Best Buy’s deal with Guns N’ Roses, or Wal-Mart’s (WMT) recent AC/DC promotion. (That’s Best Buy’s GNR promotion, pictured above. Lonely, isn’t it?) But beyond that, they are basically telling music shoppers, who bought some $7 billion worth of discs last year, to take their business elsewhere.

[Image Credit: Idolator]

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work