Poll Says Downloading Isn’t the Only Reason for Poor CD Sales


    By Elizabeth Kasper

    One-fourth of music listeners across the nation think that compact discs are too expensive, and 58 percent overall said that music is getting worse, according to an Associated Press telephone poll conducted for “Rolling Stone” magazine.

    Not surprisingly, many BYU students, who battle textbook prices and who quickly lower the volume dial when inappropriate lyrics come through the speakers, identify with the poll”s results.

    “I put my own CDs on my computer and that”s what I listen to,” said Brian Litster, a history major from Boise, Idaho. “I don”t buy too many CDs. They are kind of expensive.”

    The music industry has been scrambling to explain its recent dwindling sales figures. In 2005, a total of 618.9 million CDs were sold, down 19 percent from 762.8 million in 2001, according to Nielsen Soundscan. Although the industry may blame iTunes, Napster and other downloading applications for its dismal profits, BYU students confirmed the AP poll”s results – CDs are too expensive and the quality of music isn”t what it used to be.

    As CD prices have risen to close to $20 per disc in recent years, downloading has taken the nation by storm, which is apparent from the 352.7 million songs that were downloaded in 2005. Part of the appeal for buying music online is that many consumers, who for years bought CDs to listen to one or two songs, can now buy specific songs for as little as 88 cents to make their own “favorites” CDs.

    “I bought four CDs after a concert the other night, but I also have about 50 downloaded songs,” said Jacob Friend, an electrical engineering major from Independence, Kan. “I just think a dollar for a download isn”t bad.”

    And it isn”t just the expense that is driving music fans away. The poll revealed that 49 percent of surveyed fans in the 18- to 34-year-old age group say music is getting worse – and that”s bad news for the music industry, which relies on this group for the majority of its profits.

    Many Utah college-age students dislike popular music because of the inappropriate messages it sends.

    “The music I listen to now is mostly mellow stuff,” said Gloria Given, a UVSC student majoring in behavioral science. “The language and messages in the other stuff isn”t good. It gets in your head and you don”t even know what you”re singing. It”s just been getting worse.”

    “I think the quality is good depending on what and who you listen to,” said Kristen Malstrom, a Montana native majoring in therapeutic recreation. “Rap and hip hop have definitely gone down in quality.”

    The poll also found that 80 percent of the listeners surveyed consider downloading music for free without the artist”s consent to be stealing. It also found that 71 percent believe that paying a dollar for a song is a steal.

    “Downloading without paying is definitely wrong,” Given said. “I have a roommate who pays 88 cents for a song, and I”d rather just do that. It”s only a dollar.”

    The January 2006 poll surveyed 1,000 adults, including 963 music fans, from the continental United States. The poll has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

    FM radio is still the main medium most listeners use to find out about new music, the poll said.

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