CD Sales Then and Now
Like many people who experienced the strange yet awesome decade of the 90s, I remember spending many weeks’ allowances and many hours in the CD department. With that memory also comes the recollection of annoying commercials for all the classic hits that were exclusively unavailable in stores. One I’m sure we all know well – the Now That’s What I Call Music! series.
The Now! CD’s I remember were filled with Brittney Spears, Hanson, the Spice Girls, the Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, and Smash Mouth. Everyone had them. They were a great way to avoid buying an artist’s CD and not liking half the tracks (if you’re into pop music, that is).
Little did I know that the series was originally started in the UK and Ireland in 1983. It would be another 15 years before the sensation would reach the US.
With the internet’s domination of the way we share music, CDs have become more or less obsolete. Cars are still manufactured with CD players, and stereos will continue to put them in; but given the ease of mp3s and the storage capacity of mp3 players, CDs are a thing of the past. Or so I thought.
When I heard that Now That’s What I Call Music! had recently put out a new volume, I was sure it was a joke. Who would be listening to current pop music and not have already made the switch to digital music? Apparently not many people.
The most recent album in the US series, Now That’s What I Call Music! 37, was released February 8, 2011, and sales were expectedly pitiful.
According to a 2004 article from MTV.com, each of the first twenty-nine volumes has received at least a platinum certification, and fifteen albums from the series reached number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart. However, recent releases have not sold as well with Now! 34 selling only 88,000 copies in its first week, compared to the 621,000 copies Now! 7 sold in its debut week in July 2001.
What did the monumental compilation-producers at Now! decide to put on the most recent release? Taylor Swift, Kesha, Rihanna, and Katy Perry, among others. I’m willing to bet you didn’t get nearly as excited as you did over the previous list of 90s groups.
So, that was then, this is now. CD sales are declining, and stores like FYE are disappearing along with our music. No longer do we have to lug around a binder of CDs. Everything we’ve ever heard can fit in our pocket.
And if you’re wondering how our neighbors in the UK are doing with this trend, the US is still behind. The Now! series there is in its 78th cycle. It’s is available in CD and download format, and our old pal Brittney is still making appearances.
On their website, the company offers a tool for people to make their own renditions of Now! by picking the songs. Really, what’s the point? If they haven’t noticed, Office Depot already started that when blank CDs appeared on their shelves. When will the series finally kick the bucket? Perhaps when it becomes Now! That’s What I Call Illegal Downloads.