CD and vinyl sales boosted by streaming – and sound quality is important

Music body BPI and the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) commissioned the survey which was conducted by AudienceNet. It found that music consumption in the UK has “entered a new multi-channel era”. The survey says that consumers use streaming to discover new music, but turn to CD and vinyl to buy, collect and gift.

Two thirds of people asked consider themselves “multi-channel listeners”, with many agreeing that they stream to find what’s new, trending and popular but when they come across something they love, they purchase it in a physical format.

Sound quality was a key reason for people buying CDs. Of those people surveyed who bought CDs, 89 per cent of people said sound quality was "very important" or "fairly important". Permanent ownership of "something tangible" and the ability to play your music in the car were also key factors for CD buyers.

In fact, the survey showed sound quality was the most popular factor cited as "important" for people using streaming services and for those buying downloads.

56 per cent of people surveyed used a "CD player (Hi-Fi)" to listen to music, still the most popular device overall. Isolate the results to 16-24 year olds, howver, and the most popular device was a smartphone - 76 per cent of this age group used a mobile to listen to music. A laptop was the second most popular device for all ages, and in the 16-24 age group.

The survey also found that multi-channel listening wasn’t restricted to the younger generation, with 80 per cent of the 35-54 age group seeing themselves as multi-channel listeners.

“This research suggests music fans are a great deal more nuanced in their approach to new forms of technology than they are sometimes given credit for," said Kim Bayley, Chief Executive ERA.

"They understand there are some benefits which streaming can deliver better than CD or vinyl and vice-versa. It is important, therefore, that the industry responds to this and ensures that music is available how and when music fans want it."

CD sales are declining, but figures suggest the rate is slowing, going from a 20 per cent drop in 2012 to just 6 per cent in the first half of 2015. CD sales still account for 60 per cent of all albums sold in the UK. Meanwhile, vinyl sales continue to surge, rising from 205,000 copies in 2007 to in excess of 2 million in 2015.

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Max is a staff writer for What Hi-Fi?'s sister site, TechRadar, in Australia. But being the wonderful English guy he is, he helps out with content across a number of Future sites, including What Hi-Fi?. It wouldn't be his first exposure to the world of all things hi-fi and home cinema, as his first role in technology journalism was with What Hi-Fi? in the UK. Clearly he pined to return after making the move to Australia and the team have welcomed him back with arms wide open.