Media & Communication

Media & Communication Melanie Heazel
How Music Retailers Large and Small are Combating Downloadable Music and Internet Sales

Since 2000, the sale of actual CDs has declined 25%. The digital age is putting more pressure on retailers to make changes and be more innovative. Consumers still have a variety of options when deciding where to purchase music, though the Internet and music downloads are becoming increasingly popular and could wipe brick-and-mortar retailers off the map in years to come. Stores are scrounging to find new ways to entice buyers into stores. Big-box retailers and even smaller chains have begun signing exclusive deals for extra tracks and features on CDs that can only be purchased in-store. These media exclusives, though great marketing tools for mass merchants, hurt the independent record industry, whose regular releases suffer next to their exclusive content counter-parts. Independent stores have tried to carve out their own niches by selling vinyl records and used CDs, hosting in-store performances, creating welcoming atmospheres and offering far larger selections than their big-box competitors. A case study of Scarborough, Maine's independent retailer Bull Moose Music and Allentown's big-box retailer Target shows just how different these retailers are. Independent stores like Bull Moose stock 12,000 to 14,000 CD titles, while mass merchants like Target only stock 1,000 to 1,500 titles. Despite independent stores' superior selection, they suffer the most, often unable to compete with mass merchant discounts and exclusive deals. If big-box retailers win out, consumers will suffer and diversity in the music industry will take a down-turn. In the end, both big and small retailers may lose out as digital technology slowly eradicates the use of CDs.