CDs Are Still The Leading Music-Delivery Format

Although paid music downloads are certainly popular these days, CDs comprised 65% of all tracks sold in the first half of 2009 according to the NPD Group's MusicWatch survey. Paid digital music downloads increased from 30% market share in all of 2008 to 35% of tracks purchased by U.S. consumers in the first half of 2009.

For the purposes of the survey, digital sales included downloads to the PC and over-the-air full-track downloads to cell phones, but they did not include cell phone ringtone downloads. The survey also excluded music-subscription services. NPD defined a full-length CD as offering 12 tracks.

"Many people are surprised that the CD is still the dominant music-delivery format, given the attention to digital music and the shrinking retail footprint for physical products," said Russ Crupnick, entertainment industry VP. "But with digital music sales growing at 15 to 20 percent, and CDs falling by an equal proportion, digital music sales will nearly equal CD sales by the end of 2010."

In terms of music downloads, Apple’s iTunes continues to enjoy great success, having expanded its lead in the market to 69% of all digital music sold in the first half of the year; AmazonMP3 held 8%. Walmart leads the pack in terms of physical CD sales with a 20% share followed by Best Buy at 16% and Target and Amazon with 10% each. If you combine physical and digital sales, iTunes still leads in the U.S. with 25% of all music units sold.