Sales for CDs keep on falling, but predictions of the format’s total demise are still premature as it continues to hang around. While download sales have fallen off the cliff, the CD sales decline has been a lot more gradual. In fact, there’s still at least one music genre where followers still prefer the round plastic disc, and that’s Classical.
A study conducted by researchers from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Music and the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland have determined that CDs are twice as popular with classic music consumers than streaming or downloads. Surprisingly, the study also found that the genre was actually growing globally, although other more popular genres like pop and rock are in no danger in losing market share to it.
What’s probably most unique is what influences classical sales the most. Unlike other genres, radio and word of mouth are what affects classical music listeners buying the most, with fans also looking to radio for reviews of their favorite songs and artists. This is the way that pop music used to work prior to the digital formats. Most classical music listeners also read or listen to professional reviews and these listeners have certain expectations of the review as well as the critic, again like pop music from years gone by.
While music critics and writers still exist for other genres, their influence has been largely replaced by playlists and AI-driven suggestions from their streaming platform of choice. Lovers of classical music are still largely influenced by them though, especially if they’re seemingly impartial and have a good knowledge of the artist, according to the study.
That said, I’ve noticed that at consumer hi-fi shows the audiophile gear manufacturers either tend to use Tidal or vinyl for their demonstrations, with only the CD player manufacturers using the format for playback.
I wonder if reliance on the CD for classical consumers will continue if streaming ever gets around to a high-resolution standard?