It’s 2012: Revisiting Predictions – The End of the (Music) World?

With 2012 officially underway, rumors that major record labels will end CD production by the end of 2012 have subsided.  These rumors have alarmed music fans fond of the physical music world, but the rumor has never been confirmed by major labels.

The idea that physical music will soon become a mere afterthought is nothing new (you can read more about it here), but 2011 record sales have largely quieted doomsayers.  
Last year U.S. album sales rose for the first time since 2004, increasing 1.4 percent from 326.2 million units in 2010  to 330.6 million units in 2011.  Cheaper CD prices and the raising popularity in vinyl records is largely attributed to the increase in overall record sales.
Interestingly, however, CD sales fell by six percent, leaving the increase in album sales being attributed to vinyl and digital album sales.  Digital album sales alone made up 103.1 million units sold, with vinyl sales increasing to 3.9 million units.
With the 2011 stats showcasing CD sales continued decline, independent music retailers are becoming a great resource in predicting the fate of CD production in the relative future. One of the top independent music retailers, CD Baby, has shown an interesting shift in the indie music scene.  
The 2011 CD Baby stats highlights a unique trend in album distribution by artists. Of new albums listed on the site, 62.1% of titles had CD and digital units for sell.  Despite the 8.4% decrease in CD sales, dropping from 691,340 units to 633,2800 units, CD sales remain a vital revenue source for the company.  With the increase in CD units being offered on the online retailer, indie music offerings prove the strength of the CD market.
For a full 2011 music sales data, check out The Nielsen Company and Billboard 2011 Music Industry Report.
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