The Rise And Decline Of The Compact Disc In One Gif

When was the last time you bought music on a disc? If you answered more than a few months ago, you’re in a small pool of people who still buy anything musical that’s not digital-only. Strangely, many folks don’t own disc players of any kind anymore, be it in their home or car. The Compact Disc (CD) used to be the primary means of acquiring, listening and enjoying music. But the advent of iTunes and the effects of web-­streaming technology has led to on­-demand music platforms like Pandora, Spotify, Rdio and other forms of distribution.

What this means to individual music artists trying to find distribution channels for their work is a completely different subject, but what does it mean for music consumers?

rise and decline of the compact disc CD
Revenue in the music industry broken down by year (Digital Music News)

All things ebb and flow. In the gif presented at, the start date reveals a mid­-1980s that was dominated by one form of music media only to see that media shrink. The decline of cassette tapes led to the wide-­spread dominance of the Compact Disc. Recent years has seen that dominance sharply decline. But will the multitude of streaming channels lead to another dip, and possibly resurgence for the CD? Possibly so.

What the gif doesn’t show is the small rise (and return) to other “classic” forms of music mediums that pockets of fans are returning to like vinyl, cassettes, and even 8­tracks. All things ebb and flow. Let’s see what the next turn in media brings us.


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