Artists like Chance the Rapper and Kanye West are making history with their embrace of streaming, as CD sales continue to plummet into oblivion.



Will 2016 Be Known As the Year The CD Finally Died?

If video killed the radio star, who’s to blame for the death of the CD? If you’re listening to music while you read this, the answer is probably a click away. Streaming services like Google Play MusicSpotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and dozens of offshoots have become the new normal in the music industry. And all the while, CD sales continue to slide like an avalanche into a hole of oblivion filled with cassette tapes and cartridges of the 1983 Atari video game, E.T. With CD sales down an incredible 84 percent from a decade ago, the format is having a Titanic moment that’s hitting nearly every genre except country music. But thanks to a handful of artists greeting the future of music distribution with open arms, this may be the year that the CD ship finally plunges into the icy cold waters of obscurity.

After people got over the shock and disappointment of discovering that Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book was not actually a coloring book, they started streaming the rapper’s latest album so much that it landed the record in the history books (which you still can’t color in). Billboard announced yesterday that Coloring Book is the first album to ever chart on the Billboard 200 as a streaming-only release, which is sure to make Chance’s BFF and fellow artist Kanye West happy–he proclaimed the the death of the CD during the release of The Life of Pablo. Chance was groundbreaking artist already; he’s currently not with any record label, likely making him the most popular unsigned artist of all time. But with Coloring Book, he’s also proving that the future of music is in streaming. The album was an Apple Music exclusive, and is not for sale anywhere. All streaming, all the time.

Chance’s record comes hot on the Yeezy-adorned heels of Pablo, which has been on the Billboard charts for seven weeks with 99.93 percent of its units driven by streaming–shoutout to the 21,000 people who bought the CD in that .07 percent slice. All is not doom and gloom in the music world though. For those who don’t stream, there’s always vinyl. The resurgent format has grown 260 percent since 2009, which means people are either lunch meat enthusiasts or really love protesting technology by finding the hardest possible way to play it. If you need us, we’ll have our headphones in listening to Coloring Book to drown out the exasperated screams of music execs who’ve lost billions as the CD becomes the technological dinosaur of the modern age.

Lead image by Kathryn Chadason

Stay tuned to Milk for more music news. 

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