Thoughts on Discogs' claim that "CDs are making a comeback"

Discogs posted this two days ago, and it’s the headline on their homepage right now. The title is “3 Trends That Prove CDs Are Making a Comeback”. It reminded me of something that @rob or a MusicBrainz staffer posted not too long ago… Something about a wave of people wanting more depth from their listening experiences than streaming can provide, and how MB and LB are great for listeners like that. (Anyone have the link?)

Unfortunately, the Discogs post isn’t so concerned with the listener. They just want people to buy CDs on Discogs. To do that, they’ve created this fiction that CDs are a trend now. They say that some people buy CDs because vinyl has gotten so expensive. OK, yes, that sometimes happens. If the high price of vinyl does start a trend of CD buying and collecting, then that would be interesting. For sure Discogs hopes that happens, and they’re trying to make it a reality, but I don’t think it has happened yet. If it had, then they wouldn’t have resorted to these weak arguments.

Even though the post (which has no date or byline) is an ad disguised as music journalism, they could at least have tried to give it a human touch. Part of it is intended to convince sellers not to give up hope, and another part is meant to convince young people that CDs are desirable. Most of the reasons they give for the alleged comeback are just general selling points of CD over vinyl, which don’t necessarily explain any sales increases. Eventually it just degenerates into marketing speak about how CDs offer a “unique hi-fi listening experience”. What their own data show is that there is a glut of unsold CDs in Discogs Marketplace. Notice that their list of trends does not include higher CD sales on Discogs! (If the subtext had a title it would be “Please, Please, Please Buy All These CDs :sob:”) That chart of the number of CDs listed, not sold… ouch.

In making their case, Discogs has nothing to say about CD sales outside the US, so that’s disappointing. They point to 2021 as the year when CD sales increased in the US, but that’s not a trend. CD sales dropped in 2020; they partially bounced back in 2021, then declined again in 2022. (Source)

I feel like they could have made a more coherent distinction between sales of new and used discs as well. The total number of new albums sold (across all formats) in the US has been decreasing for more than a decade. Meanwhile, 2000s nostalgia has been a thing for awhile now. Many of Discogs’ “most collected” CD releases are major albums from the late '90s through the mid 2000s, so there’s definitely some nostalgia-buying happening. That’s to be expected, I think. But it would be a lot more interesting if Zoomers were buying CDs for the first time because they discovered Nirvana or Green Day or Nora Jones, and they wanted to listen to them on that format.


Discogs is a shop that sells CDs and Vinyl. If everything went digital their shop would cease and they would close the website. That post is purely telling sellers not to leave and go to EBay. I also think the post may be older than three days old, I know there are also previous versions around. As a shop they are worried that they are not making enough money.

I find the quality of their articles has dropped off a lot in the past year or two. Not read one in ages.

A different question would be - how many people are buying CD players? They have been removed from laptops as a lot of music playing has migrated to phones and bluetooth speakers. Many GBs of software can be downloaded in a few minutes. So what is the market like at Currys and Richer Sounds for the CD hardware? Can you get a CD player at Tescos?


Not sure which link (my post) or the linked post, but here is a link that talks about the trend that I am seeing (and feeling myself):

Bring that beat back: why are people in their 30s giving up on music? | Music | The Guardian

Nothing relevant to CDs, really. It feels funny to me that in 1998 I said, “Right CDs will be dead soon and anything that focuses on that lives in the past”. They’ve outlived my expectations many-fold, that is for sure.

And if Discogs is suggesting that CDs are coming back, I rather don’t buy it. This vinyl revival has been carried by people who… don’t own a turntable. All seems a bit iffy, no?


Discogs and eBay are my go-to sources, after checking my local stores (very happy that Music Millennium and Everyday Music have survived so far). Even though I only started buying via Discogs in the past 2 or 3 years, my volume of one or two CDs per year certainly isn’t the cause of that uptick.

It would be my preference if they were making a comeback. Being in my 60s, as well as just not buying a lot of music anymore, I’m certainly not the focus of the market. But if I’m looking for something, and I have a choice between CD or digital download, I’ll buy a CD just about every time, unless I really just want a particular track, or I’m in a “sustainability” mood. I also prefer used over new as long as the condition is good, so I’m really kinda shooting myself in the foot, not encouraging new CD manufacturing.

I never did understand why anyone would go back to vinyl after CD. If there’s more “depth” to hear on vinyl, it’s lost on my ears, even when CDs were the hot new thing.


I also think the post may be older than three days old

@IvanDobsky I had the same suspicion due to several hints in the content and metadata. I checked Wayback Machine and found that the first snapshot was on 2022-08-30. Looks like they waited only nine months before reposting this.

I don’t grudge Discogs for wanting to sell old CDs, but their approach is so unnecessarily duplicitous.

Nothing relevant to CDs, really. It feels funny to me that in 1998 I said, “Right CDs will be dead soon and anything that focuses on that lives in the past”. They’ve outlived my expectations many-fold, that is for sure.

@rob Great article about a sad phenomenon. Very relatable. I may be thinking about this for a long time to come.

I felt the same way as you about CDs in the early 2000s. One thing I can say for the format is that it continues to be a source of uncompressed PCM audio that often has masterings with decent dynamic range. Ha!

Oh, it turns out the line I was thinking of came from the MetaBrainz Summit 2022 recap:

We’re witnessing people getting fed up with streaming and focusing on a more engaged music experience, which is exactly the type of audience we wish to cater to, so this may work out well for us.

I love it.


That Discogs article is a masterpiece in creative statistics :heart:

  • The second-best selling format on Discogs - is anyone really surprised that it beat cassettes, mini-disk, and wax cylinder?
  • A table showing the listings of CD’s increasing - but with nothing to compare to (at what rate did overall listings increase)
  • 1 in 5 items purchased on Discogs is a CD - this is lower than I would have expect. All I can glean from this is that Discogs remains a overwhelmingly vinyl trading ground.

I think they are experiencing a resurgence (anecdotally), and I would expect it to increase pretty soon. You can measure these ‘collectable’ cycles without much effort, after all.

But “comeback” is not an objective term… compared to digital it’s going to remain microscopic. It’s very smart to compare it to vinyl stats if you want to tout some nice looking percentages (e.g. all of the stats that Discogs gives in the article).

Reminds me of a great MAD magazine series of strips (that I sadly can’t find online). “Even blindfolded, 9 in 10 people chose our brand of soft drink” - with a picture of a blindfolded person in front of 10 bottles. With, of course, 9 being one brand, and only one the other. Classic!


So i’ve had a bit of a think about this since this was posted and yeah it is as we’ve already thoroughly established, marketing bunk - but then again from a house like Discogs are you really surprised, they’re a long way from the original objective of being a database to record electronic vinyl 12"'s and a little bit of selling of them and only have interests in tracking release data if it returns positive profit$$$…

CD’s have, and are on a continual slide downhill… less and less supermarkets stock them (now reduced to maybe two media shelves of the latest NOW releases and a few top 5 artists), and even the final hold-out of music reatilers in the UK (HMV) have reduced the amount of CD’s they stock considerably, allowing more floor space to (rahter expensive) vinyl records, blu-rays, and assorted “tat”.

As for the second-hand market I’d say again we are at the lowest point for CD’s… I can still find second hand places that will sell CD’s in bulk-deals just to get shifted of them. Working out as little as 10p a CD, which is great for someone like me who does buy CD’s still but isn’t exactly “profitable” for anyone else.

The thing is, as sad as it sounds, we are always going to be the weird ones here - and we are not the majority. The majority who want to listen to the latest pop record will find a way to listen to it as easy as possible, and considering many have gone without disc-playing devices in their homes, the lack of disc drives on computer devices and that most automotive makers have opted to welding an iPad to the dashboard instead of a traditional head-unit, is anyone surprised that CD’s are going the way of the dodo?

The only CD’s that really sold (in my personal experience) were ones which were either:

  • special editions that do not exist anywhere else
  • content that isn’t easily available digitally

On that second-point, that will be where any kind of traditonal physical media (regardless of the format) will remain strong. I’ve heard people claim that DVD’s are making a come-back, and I can see why with how fractured the streaming platforms have become but I’d be surprised if any more than a small percentage would start collecting them again as many will simply “take what the hand feeds them”. Amazingly as music listeners we are spoilt for the near universal availability across the most popular platforms (Spotify vs Apple Music vs Deezer vs Amazon Music vs YouTube Music), so such an arguement rarely works.

The only final thing is that if people decide that CD’s are now “trendy”, like cassettes - and so they will be picked up by individuals who like trendy and unique things (a bit like me). I have seen a few who are declaring the shiny-discs as such, but I think they need to fully “fade away” from the mainstream to even be seriously considered “old school cool”.


Say what you will about CDs, but can you smear honey on Spotify and it still plays?