Digital singles finally outsell CDs

Is the CD's time coming to an end?
Is the CD's time coming to an end?

In a statistic filled with landmark-y-ness, Atlantic Records has recorded the first quarter where online music sales have outstripped those of physical CDs.

It might have only been marginal at 51 per cent of all sales, but it still shows that consumers are increasingly happy to download a song, preferably DRM-free and have it on their PC and MP3 player, without worrying about needing a physical copy too.

Parent company Warner is not seeing the same growth in the digital market however, as it only managed to garner 27 per cent of all sales through the digital medium.

However, it did see double digit growth in downloads, so it's likely to be a matter of time before things change for the bigger companies too.

Connecting the dots

Referring to the multitude of extra content that each single now needs to be a massive hit - i.e. ringtones - Julie Greenwald, President of Atlantic Records said to The New York Times: "I think we've figured it out. It used to be that you could connect five dots and sell a million records. Now there are 20 dots you can connect to sell a million records."

Although the statistics refer to online sales in the US, the UK can't be far behind, having already recorded its first number one single based on download sales alone with 'Crazy' from Gnarls Barkley in 2006.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.