The Last Holiday for CDs?

Last year about this time I read an article that suggested 2007 might be the last holiday season CDs would be sold in retail stores. Obviously the author was wrong about that. However, with the economy in freefall and retail stores dropping like flies, I wonder if the author wasn’t just a bit premature. August was one of the worst months for record companies since Tower went out of business, with monumental returns from stores like Borders and Virgin. And with both of those companies seemingly on the ropes, Amazon and a few independent stores like J and R, Amoeba, and DMG would appear to be the last bastions of deep-catalog jazz in the marketplace. As brick and mortar stores try to get closer to the bottom line, the worst casualties will always be the Jazz and Classical sections. And since jazz legacy titles are always safer bets than new titles, it’s just going to get harder and harder for lesser known and left-of-center jazz artists to break through.

Obviously there are a lot of changes afoot in the world, and we’d be foolish not to pay attention and react. As musicians, it remains to be seen how the coming recession will affect our abilities to play gigs and earn our livelihoods through music. From the point of view of a label weasel, the repercussions in the marketplace are monumental (if not unexpected), and will require major changes in the ways record companies do business.

So whether or not 2008 will be the last holiday season for CDs at retail, we certainly will be looking back at this period as an important time in our lives. How we deal with it, and how flexible and open to change we can be, will determine how well we come out the other side.

More later.