The darlings of this year's South by Southwest conference, the Decemberists, recently released their 5th album "The Hazards of Love." This is nothing earth-shaking by itself except for the fact that it landed at #14 on the album charts and was not even released on a CD!
Yes, it's true. In what looks like an acceleration of the death of the CD, the band didn't even consider it worthwhile to release it on the king of music delivery formats for the last 25 years, yet did release it as a vinyl record. In it's first week of release, The Hazards of Love sold 18,000 digital downloads and 1000 units of vinyl.
This ties in with the research I've been doing for a book that I'm writing called "Music 3.0: A Survival Guide To Making Music In The Internet Age." Just about every industry expert that I've interviewed has predicted that the CD is going away as a release format on a retail level, mostly because it looks like retail music stores will die. Most experts also predict that CDs will still be pressed as souvenirs that the artist will sell at gigs, so that's how the CD should be treated.
It's too early to say that the Decemberist's release is the beginning of the end of the CD. After all, their number of digital downloads for this release aren't that large so far. But it's a trend worth watching since it appears that day might come soon. Or will it?