Death of the CD

By: NBC News Email
By: NBC News Email

It happened to vinyl, to the 8-track and the cassette tape. And now, compact discs are dying a slow death, as evidenced by the latest statistics.

What does that mean for the few remaining record stores and for music as we know it?

Used to be that a record store was the place to hang out for music lovers. Now more than ever, we get our music from a virtual world, alone at our desks.

Billboard Magazine's senior editor Ann Donahue says "it may be the beginning of the end for the CD format especially since young people are so much more attracted to buying their music digitally."

Last year, nearly half of all teenagers bought no compact discs and overall CD sales dropped 19%, while online sales shot up 21%.

In fact, for the first time, Apple's iTunes beat out best buy to become the second most popular music seller in the U.S., Wal-Mart is number one.

Although some music stores like California-based Amoeba are still thriving, they're among a dying breed.

Fans will tell you, there's nothing quite like being able to thumb through the music at a store like this. And yet, in 2006 alone, some 800 music stores went out of business across the U.S.

A disappointing trend for music lovers.

Amoeba co-founder Marc Weinstein says "people still are longing for the experience obviously and there are a lot of things that they get out of the deal that they can't possibly get online. Mainly kind of a sense of community where everyone who's into music are all here and who knows who you're going to run into and who you're going to meet behind the counter."

Customer Robert Beekman says "I do know people that only download music. For me, it's not the same - not the same feeling."

As Ann Donahue says, for a lot of young people, "they just want the music and they want it quick. "While they don't have the experience of hanging out at Tower, they can hang out at MySpace."

So start saying good-bye to "touching" your music or studying the album art.

But don't throw 'em away. They'll probably be collectors items someday.

Compact discs still comprise the majority of music sales but last year they were mostly purchased by people 36 and older.

In April, record stores around the country will celebrate "record store day" to try to get more support for their existence.

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